September 25, 2008

UN told biofuels can help lift people out of poverty

The Domestic Fuel blog had a good post today about a United Nations forum on Millennium Development Goals that featured a discussion on energy and biofuels.

What was interesting was that one of two presenters at the private sector forum roundtable was Jeff Broin, CEO of POET, one of the world's largest ethanol companies. Broin had the opportunity to share ideas on how ethanol can help address poverty and energy dependence in developing nations.

Broin's comments are posted on Rhapsody in Green - POET's blog. But I've included an appetizer here - some powerful and important words.

With a billion acres of idled cropland across the globe -- and the price of agricultural commodities above the cost of production for the first time in decades -- there is an unbelievable opportunity for underdeveloped countries to simultaneously lift people out of poverty and solve their crippling addiction to energy imports.

How? Given all the advancement in agriculture, including new seeds, more durable crops, and smarter farming techniques, people today in places as far apart as Sioux Falls and South Africa can grow more sustainable crops than ever before. For example, in the 1940s, the average American farmer produced about 40 bushels of corn per acre; today it’s 140.

The result is an agriculture industry that can meet the growing demand for food and biofuels -- and help nations once left out of the agriculture industry take care of their food needs, raise people out of poverty, and develop a profitable, self-sustaining farming industry.

And the good news is that this development doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment. The billion acres of idled crop land guarantees that new farm land need not come from rain forests or other sensitive areas. And thanks to the work of scientists, farming today relies much less on pesticides and much more on new seeds and smarter agricultural techniques.

For more, including a .pdf of the remarks, click on the Rhapsody in Green link above.

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