Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Monday, July 7, 2008

Opinion: Biofuels help meet U.S. energy goals

San Francisco Chronicle - opinion
Open Forum
Bob Dinneen
Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Since 1998, just 10 years ago, world oil prices have increased 10-fold, recently hitting an all-time high of more than $140 per barrel. The impacts of this unabated rise are now coming home to roost.

Everything from Q-tips to cornflakes is costing more. It takes petroleum to produce, process, package, transport and market the items that appear on store shelves. This is especially true of food products. Record oil prices make it more expensive for the farmer to grow the grains that are fed to livestock. And those prices also make it more expensive for big food companies to process, wrap the food in plastic, and ship it to the store in energy-intensive refrigerated containers.

While demand for energy increases globally, so too does the demand for food. With energy and food prices at record levels, industries heavily reliant on oil or grain are looking for some one to blame for the rising prices consumers confront. Thus began a spate of news stories suggesting that the rise in the development of renewable alternatives to gasoline and diesel - biofuels - is forcing us to compete with our cars for food. Not so. Biofuels are part of the solution to keeping food and energy price rises under control.

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