Biodiesel: Fueling the Developing World

John Davis

Opponents of biofuels like to bang the drum of doom and gloom saying how green products, such as biodiesel, are causing world food shortages… especially in developing countries.

But this article from Medill Reports – Chicago says that one man is helping poorer countries, such as Haiti, develop alternative energy solutions without tapping into those nations’ precious food supplies:

haiti.jpgNow, many around the world are blaming biofuels, including biodiesel, for increasing international food prices and leading to starvation in developing nations just like Haiti.

“This is so ironic. For me, it’s like karma or something,” [Mark Rice, CEO of Biofuels Technology LLC, in Northbrook, Illinois] says with a note of disbelief and an idea for using Haiti’s jatropha tree as a solution to the problem.

Haitians currently use the plant for fencing because it is thorny and inedible, so goats stay away from it. But Rice and others see a possible cash crop in jatropha for biodiesel that could bring investment and jobs to a nation that greatly needs both.

The article goes on to say that Rice’s family has been producing biodiesel for three generations, so he knows plenty about the business. He also realizes that the price of the main feedstock, soybean oil, has tripled in the last three years. That’s why he sees additional feedstocks, such as jatropha, as important… especially for the Developing World.