Nuffield Council on Bioethics Seeks Views on Biofuels

Joanna Schroeder

Ever thought about putting in your two sense on the growth of biofuels? Well, here’s your chance. The UK-based Nuffield Council on Bioethics is asking people to submit their views on the potential of biofuels.

Nuffield_Council_on_BioethicsIn recent months, first generation biofuels have been under fire from groups supporting the position that the net greenhouse gas emissions may not be much better than those of fossil fuels. In addition, environmental impact and food availability has also been questioned as has the role of sustainable biofuels development in developing countries.

“Research into new types of biofuels is looking more promising,” said Professor Joyce Tait, Chair of the Council’s Working Party on biofuels. “Rather than using food crops to produce biofuels, in the future we may be able to use algae, trees, the inedible ‘woody’ parts of plants, and agricultural waste. In addition, scientists are working to increase the yield of biofuel crops and improve the production process, in order to maximize the energy output of land and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions.”

However, the Council notes that before these types of biofuels are brought into wider use, their potential to meet energy needs, support economic development and reduce environmental impact should be considered. In addition, the council will study how government policies and international initiatives will affect biofuel production and research.

The ultimate goal of the council is to solicit peoples’ views on how to promote, provide incentives for and regulate new types of biofuels in ways that are both sustainable and ethical. These results, combined with the Council’s expertise, will be used to advise policy makers. The deadline for comments is March 15, 2010 with the results to be published this winter. Comments can be made by visiting the Council’s website.

biofuels, Miscellaneous