Before we end this year, the ACB would like to share the following with you:
The South African government has recently published draft regulations for the mandatory blending of agro-fuels into the country’s liquid fuel supply. The regulations state that at least 2% of all petrol, and 5% of all diesel sold must come from agrofuels. This means that around 700 million litres of agrofuels must be produced every year!
Probing beneath the veneer of the greenwash and job creation speak of government policies, one finds that the real beneficiaries will be agribusiness, with emerging farmers being roped into dodgy private-private partnerships. The agro-chemical corporations, who dominate South Africa’s domestic market are set on scoring windfall profits in the production of “renewable” fuels. Soybeans appear to be a hot favourite for biodiesel production! To produce the required quantities of soybeans will entail the use of Monsanto’s GM seeds, and will require the use of 2.5 million litres of Monsanto’s highly toxic chemical herbicide glyphosate; this would need to be mixed in with nearly 160 million litres of water! Agrofuel production would also not be possible without the use of prodigious quantities of synthetic fertislier; the sugar industry accounts for 18% of domestic use alone. Over 60% of South Africa’s fertiliser demand is imported, and the global fertiliser industry is itself highly dependent on fossil fuels.
Even if all the soybean, sunflower and canola grown here were diverted to agrofuels, this would barely provide enough for the demand a 5% blending ratio and raises questions about the importation of feedstock from the region and its concomitant impact on food security on the African continent.
It is estimated that 400,000 tons of sugar would be required to satisfy the 2% bioethanol blending ratio, yet the sugar industry is battling with its worst drought in its history, with production the lowest it has been in 15 years. Interestingly, emerging farmers produce less than 10% of South Africa’s annual crop. Much is being made of sugarbeet production by small farmers in the Eastern Cape, a crop that has not been traditionally cultivated in South Africa, and whose large scale cultivation will threaten household food security.
The ACB has been tracking the developments around South Africa’s nascent agrofuels industry for a number of years, and has written extensively of the threats to local communities, the environment, and food security that this entails. For more information please refer to www.biosafetyafrica.org.za .
Please see and download our objections and comments on the mandatory blending to the Department of Energy, at http://www.biosafetyafrica.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/Mandatory-blending-response-2011-11-18.pdf
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