GM Biofuels: Another Planned Disaster

Governments around the world have proposed biofuels, liquid fuels derived from plants, fungi or algae, as a solution to today’s energy and environmental crises. But this alternative is as bad as, or worse, than fossil fuels.

Reasons to reject biofuels include:

• Loss of farmland for fuel land, increasing food prices and world hunger;

• Deforestation and conversion of prairie to cropland, causing a net increase in greenhouse gases;

• Increased reliance on eco-destructive pesticides; and

• Proliferation of dangerous genetically modified crops.

ActionAid, I-SIS, and others have produced in-depth reports linking biofuels to increased food prices, increased greenhouse gases through land use changes, and loss of income for local communities.

These reasons alone are sufficient to deem biofuels a poor alternative to fossil fuels. However, the last two bulleted items raise more grave concerns.

Genetically modified corn, cane, beet, and oil seeds like soy, rapeseed, and palm oil (among other biota) are used to produce biofuels. They require “intensive” chemical inputs with far-ranging consequences for humans, Earth’s pollinators, and for the environment.

GM crops have been linked to organ damage and reproductive failure in mammals, and sudden death in plants. They are also linked to the catastrophic bee die-off occurring in the US and elsewhere.

GM crops contaminate natural species, destroy biodiversity and bankrupt farmers who then cannot sell to a No-GMO market. Biotech giants admit they cannot prevent contamination of natural fields.

Further, GM crops fail to yield as promised. “After more than 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization,” the Union of Concerned Scientists reports, “we conclude that GE has done little to increase overall crop yields.” When promised yields didn’t materialize in India, many farmers – indeed, whole families – committed suicide.

The Organic Center found that “GE crops have been responsible for an increase of 383 million pounds of herbicide use” in the U.S. from 1996 thru 2008. Weed resistance to these chemicals has skyrocketed. Resistant horseweed, ragweed and pigweed are ruining fields.

Terrifying for the biosphere, pesticides cause mass die-offs. Yale Environment 360 noted that, “three new diseases have decimated populations of amphibians, honeybees, and — most recently — bats. Increasingly, scientists suspect that low-level exposure to pesticides could be contributing to this rash of epidemics.”

The 100-year experiment in chemical farming is a radical departure from 10,000 years of sustainable agriculture. Chemical farming has proven its failure to humanity and ecosystems. When chemical companies get into the ag business, they aim to sell chemicals. You know a tree by its fruit. Monsanto (Agent Orange, Vietnam), Dow (DDT, Bhopal), and Bayer (Zyklon B, Nazi camps) plan to increase the use of pesticides and biotechnology globally. They must be stopped.

If their history isn’t enough cause for alarm, these biotech firms suppress independent scientific study. In Nature Biotechnology, Emily Waltz noted that the industry’s “reluctance to share its products with scientists … is fueling the view that companies have something to hide.”

We can have little confidence in an industry that secretly foisted GM crops onto the world while banning independent investigation into potential harm. Waltz reports that so few papers turned up when one researcher reviewed the literature for toxicity studies on commercialized GM crops, that he asked, “Where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe?”

A more logical and far saner and safer solution for the energy and environmental crises we face today is to develop programs that reduce energy consumption:

• Expand mass transportation;

• Buy local, and support community gardens and farmers markets;

• Enable the four-day work week;

• Restore public ownership of mass media which thrives on consumerism; and • End biotech subsidies.

We need to shift the entire Western culture toward living simply, in harmony with nature. Instead of finding new fuel, let’s use less.

Rady Ananda began blogging in 2004. Her work has appeared in several online and print publications, including three books on election fraud. Most of her career was spent working for lawyers in research, investigations and as a paralegal. She graduated from The Ohio State University’s School of Agriculture with a B.S. in Natural Resources. Read other articles by Rady.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. MichaelKenny said on May 5th, 2010 at 10:14am #

    This reads like a student essay! It claims to be about biofuels but in fact is almost all about genetically-modified crops. There’s no inevitable link between the two. Both might be good, or neither. Equally, finding new fuel sources and using less fuel are not “either/or” situations. Both might be good, or neither. Higher food prices are also not necessarily bad inasmuch as they encourage agricultural production, particularly in poor countries, where it’s needed. In a word, the argument is simplistic.

  2. Rady Ananda said on May 5th, 2010 at 11:23am #

    Aside from the nasty attacks, you”ve also revealed a failure in your reading skills.

    GM and biofuels are linked: “Genetically modified corn, cane, wheat, beet, and oil seeds like soy, rapeseed, and palm oil (among other biota) are used to produce biofuels. ”

    Next, your support of higher food prices is not well taken.

    Also, it’s rather careless to mistake brevity for simplicity. If you bother reading the links that support each statement, you’ll learn how jam-packed this article is.

    And I seriously doubt you’ll find much support for genetically modified crops among the educated who are not financially tied to the biotech industry.

  3. lichen said on May 5th, 2010 at 3:40pm #

    I agree with the article; biofuels are another ecocidal wall street investor scam. Together with chemical/corporate industrial agriculture, it poses a serious threat to our world. However, in addition to reducing consumption and maximizing efficiency, we really do need to shut down the coal, oil, gas, uranium mining and harvest wind, sun, geothermal, and tidal when needed instead.

  4. Rady Ananda said on May 5th, 2010 at 3:56pm #

    right on, lichen.

  5. 2truthy said on May 6th, 2010 at 4:13pm #

    Thank you Rady for your excellent (yet another) article that indeed digs deep into the destructive myth that biomass fuels are ecologically sustainable, when in fact they deliver a net energy loss. As my friend Alice Friedman at Energy Pulse explains, “there isn’t enough biomass in America to make significant amounts of energy because essential inputs like water, land, fossil fuels, and phosphate ores are limited.”

    Add this to the urgent need for globally sustainable, organic farming at the local level in both first world and developing nations struggling against the unending appetite of Big Ag to pursue profits over the health and safety of people and we have a recipe for the next global food bubble.

  6. Rady Ananda said on May 6th, 2010 at 5:16pm #

    Wow, that’s a seriously in-depth article, 2truthy. Thanks. She really did her homework.

    I just watched a great docufilm on biodynamic agriculture – very inspiring; gives me hope for our farmers and our food freedom. See One Man, One Cow, One World at Top Documentary Films:

    And there’s a tender chapter excerpt from “Four Principles of Natural Farming” at <a href=""The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming

  7. Rady Ananda said on May 6th, 2010 at 5:17pm #

    oops, i guess DV doesn’t allow embedded links. but you can see the link to copy and paste

    oh, and, tyvm for the kudos, 2T