An international partnership to promote the use of ”green” fuels called the Global Bioenergy Partnership recently opened its secretariat at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations headquarters in Rome.
According to a press release announcing the new partnership, FAO has always actively promoted biofuels as a means of reducing poverty while producing clean, low-cost energy. Given the right technologies, an abundant energy supply could be tapped by converting biomass such as crop residues, grass, straw and brushwood into fuel, while crops like sugar cane, corn and soybeans are already being used to produce ethanol or bio-diesel.
Interestingly, the FAO is promoting the concept that biomass fuels can actually fight against hunger, contrary to recent reports that ethanol production is going to lead to global food shortages and the “food vs fuel” fight. Granted, they are careful to say that it needs to be “done in a sustainable manner” but the point is they acknowledge that it COULD be done.
FAO Senior Energy Coordinator Dr. Gustavo Best says, “Bioenergy opens new opportunities for development in rural areas, new agri-industries, new jobs, new infrastructure and therefore promotes economic development in rural areas.”
He says while we have to be careful that the promotion of bioenergy does not affect food production negatively, but “perhaps it comes to create synergy with food production.”
He suggests the use of crops like sorghum, which could be used to produce both food and fuel, especially with the development with new varieties.
Listen to Dr. Best’s comments here: FAO Energy (1 min MP3)