Sandra Finley is the Leader of the Green Party of SK, an entity much different from the Green Party of Canada. This is her take on some recent announcements and propaganda as well as a letter to a Con MP by Marc Loiselle and an excellent piece by Darrin Qualman, the Director of Research for the NFU.
Subject: Connection: gas tanks and dinner table socjust Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2007 13:49:14 -0600 From: Sandra Finley <xxxx@xxxxxxxx> To: xxxx@xxxxxxxIn "health" we have fought the increase in pesticide use brought about by the introduction of gmo crops. Now, the Government is providing hundreds of millions of dollars to help develop the production of crops for "biofuels". The economics, etc. don't support it. But another concern of mine is that as cropland is turned over to fuel production, we will have more and more gmo crops. Because people won't follow what's happening if the crops are destined for our gas tanks and not dinner tables. ... /S ------------------- Many thanks to Marc Loiselle for his letter to Member-of-Parliament, Brad Trost. Brad is also my MP. I received the same letter that prompted Marc to "set the record straight". Marc used the excellent analysis provided by Darrin Qualman (below - BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL CAN'T FUEL THIS CIVILIZATION) to contest this MP's claim "Biofuels: A Win-Win Situation". (Unfortunately the MP's article isn't yet posted on his web-site. www.bradtrost.ca. And I don't have time to type it from hard copy for you.) I left a message for Conservative MP Carol Skelton and talked with the office of Conservative MP, Lynn Yelich. I don't know if the letters to their constituents contain the same article used by Brad Trost. I hope not and have forwarded this email to both Carol and Lynn. We have bad decisions when people, MP's and others, are poorly informed and thereby voiceless. *** IMPORTANT: in smaller print at bottom of his mail-out, Brad Trost, MP cites his source "Statistics from: Canola Council of Canada www.canola-council.org ". NEED TO UNDERSTAND the MP's INFORMATION SOURCE: Our work on the opposition to Monsanto's gene-altered "spray-chemicals-on-it-and-it-won't-die" wheat led us to the Monsanto vrs Percy Schmeiser Supreme Court case. One of the questions addressed was: why would a "farmer organization" (the Canola Council) be an intervener in the Supreme Court on the side of Monsanto? why wouldn't they be on the side of Schmeiser? What we found is that the Canola Council is a "bought" organization. The buyer is Monsanto. Some memories will be twigged by the example of Ed Sirski from Manitoba, one of the farmer Directors of the Canola Council. He and his wife were wined and dined on a free trip to Spain. At the time we provided other examples of other "boughts". The Canola Council IS Monsanto. The glossy Canola magazines are industry propaganda. Paule Hjertaas submitted an analysis of an article in the Canola Digest. The article manipulated the research to proclaim to farm families that they are not at risk from exposure to chemicals. Paule showed how the reporting of the research was manipulated. In spite of letters to the Board of Directors they wouldn't, of course, print her analysis for their farm readers. It is Monsanto's herbicide-tolerant canola that heavily impacted overseas markets for Canadian canola. But hey! we can use it for mass production of bio-diesel. ... It can happen ONLY IF we citizens do not have INFORMED DEBATE and SOLID INFORMATION on the actual economics of the biofuels. They can proceed IF all we receive is the industry propaganda. How convenient for the industry to have the Government doing that job for them. (How fortunate for us that we have the analysis by Darrin Qualman below, and the internet to access more information!) We have gone through the long list of examples from the public record of just how corrupt Monsanto is. Now here we have this Member-of-Parliament pumping out the virtues of biodiesel. Biodiesel is made from "oilseeds such as canola". Monsanto's gmo canola. There are many UNBIASED sources of information - Darrin Qualman has nothing to gain financially from his consideration and analysis of the economics and trade-offs related to biofuels. I EXPECT BETTER than that the "information" distributed by my MP is based on "Statistics" from the Canola Council (Monsanto). God help us if the decisions of Government, all the money they are now pouring into the development of biofuels, is based on "Statistics from: Canola Council of Canada www.canola-council.org " . From Brad Trost's newsletter: "The Conservative government has allocated $345 million to help farmers & rural communities take advantage of new opportunities to produce biofuels, biofibres and biopharmaceuticals." I urge you all to follow the lead of Marc Loiselle. Talk to your elected representatives. They are taking us onto a band-wagon headed for oblivion. We are BADLY in need of informed decision-making by Governments, decisions that are not based on industry propaganda and corporate interest. Best wishes, Sandra ===================== MARC'S LETTER SENT TO: Stephen Harper;Clements, Tony. Min.Health; G.Breitkreuz, MP; NDP Caucus; Nilson,J. Min.Env.; Parti Vert/Green Party-info.; Peter Prebble, MLA; Saskatchewan Environmental Society; Serby,Clay, Min. Rural Dev; SK Party Caucus; Skelton, C. Min. WD; Taylor, L. Min. Health; NFU; Mark Wartman Min.Ag; Sandra Finley, SK Green Party Mr. Trost, I read with disgust your cover page on Biofuels in you latest newsletter sent to constituents. You and your government have been swindled into believing that biofuels are a panacea for the agricultural sector and for the environment. The truth is just the opposite and the money you have allocated, $345million will only be money in the pocket of the biofuels developers, not to farmers! The perceived benefits of biofuels are offset by the actual energy necessary to produce them. We need to look at the whole picture, which includes what it takes to get a final product; not just at the so-called benefits. This investment would have been much better spent on sustainable organic agriculture across Canada and adding back to provide more publically funded agricultural research instead of handing it to large corporate and multinational interests who don't have the best interests of Canadian citizens in mind, only those of their shareholders. I invite you to please read the following document authored by Darrin Qualman, a leading researcher in Saskatoon. (document is also attached file) He explains in layperson terms, what the actual situation is with biofuels; something sorely lacking or purposefully avoided by proponents and mainstream media. Taking an excerpt from Mr. Qualman: "Ethanol is bad physics, bad biology, and bad policy..." Expecting better from government! Regards. Marc Loiselle ========================== BIODIESEL AND ETHANOL CAN'T FUEL THIS CIVILIZATION (Darrin Qualman) The following represents the opinions of NFU Director of Research Darrin Qualman and is presented for information only. It does not necessarily represent the policy of the National Farmers Union. Your comments are welcome. It is hard to convey just how powerful, convenient, unique, and irreplaceable petroleum is. Oil is hyper-concentrated energy available, in many places, for the pumping. It is relatively stable and transportable—you can carry it in a bucket. With a bit of refining, it can be poured into weed wackers and luxury jets; it can run factories and cargo ships. It is the energy windfall equivalent of a thousand lottery wins. It has created the largest and most luxurious civilization the world has ever known. There is nothing else like it on Earth, and there never will be again. Biofuels—ethanol and biodiesel—offer only a fraction of the energy that petroleum does. More precisely, they offer only a fraction of the energy surplus—energy not required to be put back into the system to get more energy, energy you can use to support other aspects of our civilization. Any move from an oil-fueled economy/civilization to one run on bio-fuels would require a radical downsizing and restructuring, because bio-fuels are dramatically less “powerful” than oil. The preceding is true if you accept the well-founded but necessarily pessimistic energy balance calculations of David Pimental or Tad Patzek, but equally true if you accept the optimistic energy balance calculations put forward by biofuel proponents. This point bears repeating: The problem with biofuels is not just that their energy balance is less than one (that it takes more energy to create them than they eventually yield), the problem is that even if you accept industry claims of energy balances greater than one, biofuels yield only a fraction of the surplus energy that petroleum does. Planting the entire planet to biofuels would yield only a tiny fraction of the energy we use today. Biofuels cannot replace petroleum; they are not a sufficiently powerful energy source to fuel our current version of civilization*—not even remotely close. There are many claims that the energy balances for biodiesel and ethanol are “positive”—more accurately, claims that the energy balances are greater than one. Just for the sake of this article, let’s accept for a moment that the energy balance for ethanol is 1.5 units of energy out for every unit in ( www.greenfuels.org ) and the energy balance for biodiesel is 2 units of energy out for every unit in ( www.biodiesel.org ) (Both these figures ignore “externalities” such as resource and water and topsoil depletion, but externalities also exist for petroleum production.) If biofuels’ energy balance is 1.5 or 2 units of energy out for every unit in, then if you put the equivalent of ten barrels worth of biofuels energy into the biofuels production system, you end up with 15 to 20—a net gain of 1.5 to 2 times the original investment. That’s what the energy balance number means: a balance of 1.5:1 or 2:1 means you get out 1½ or 2 times more energy out than you put in. But if you have ten barrels of oil and you put them into oil production, you can produce anywhere from 50 to 100 barrels of oil, depending on where production takes place and under what conditions (tarsands production exempted from the preceding statement). With oil, it’s approximately one or two barrels in: ten barrels out. With biofuels, it’s approximately five to eight barrels in: ten barrels out. These ratios mean that if you have ten barrels of oil, you only need to set one or two aside to get ten more barrels; the other eight or nine surplus barrels can be used to fly aircraft, build cities, fuel automobiles, wage wars, etc. But if you have ten barrels of biofuel, you need to set aside five to eight to get ten more barrels. You only have two to five “surplus” barrels to fuel the other projects of civilization. In a biofuel system, the majority of your energy supply is required for energy production. Any proposed transition of our economy/civilization from oil to biofuels would mean a transition from an energy source that yields a 500% to 1000% gain on energy invested to one that yields a 50% to 100% gain (at best, and probably less than 0% if the many scientists who calculate biofuels’ energy balances at less than one are correct). The impoverishing effects on our energy-dependant, growth-based economy and civilization are easily predictable. Running a civilization on oil is like running a farm with a very efficient pony: for every ten bushels of oats you and the pony grow, the pony eats one or two; you have lots of oats left over to sell and lots of surplus money to re-invest in expanding other aspects of the farm. But running a civilization on biodiesel or ethanol is like farming with a lazy, hungry pony—it eats most of the oats it helps to grow. You have little surplus to re-invest in other areas. Your farm is not nearly as prosperous or fast-growing. In fact, if the surplus oats is not enough to feed you and your family and to sell to cover the other bills, the farm may have to shrink. Biodiesel and ethanol are not sufficiently rich energy sources to support the kind of civilization we are now running—the western car culture of leisure, luxury, and privilege. Over and above the problem of whether biofuels could theoretically yield enough surplus energy to underpin our economy, there is a second problem: in absolute terms, there will never be enough biofuel to support current energy consumption levels. Global oilseed production (canola, soybeans, etc.) is about 400 million tonnes annually. At 60 gallons of biodiesel per tonne of soybeans, turning the entire global supply of soybeans into biodiesel would yield 24 billion gallons per year. That’s about 1/6 of the 150 billion+ gallons of diesel fuel consumed each year in the world. Turning the world’s entire corn and wheat crops into ethanol would similarly supply less than a third of the world’s gasoline needs. Thus, converting the world’s entire food supply to biofuels might supply us with 20% or 30% of our fuel needs (again, accepting the very optimistic energy balance numbers put forward by promoters). More realistically, we could, at most, turn 10% of our land over to fuel production—yielding, at best, 2% or 3% of our liquid fuel needs. And the reality may be even worse: If the biofuels production system were actually fuelled totally by biofuels, we wouldn’t even have this small fraction available to run trucks and cars: we’d have to put well over half the biofuels back into the energy production system to produce more. Thus, that 2% or 3% would really be just 1% or 1.5%. Biofuels are irrelevant. These small percentages make biofuels largely irrelevant. Further, we may not even be able to access that 1% or 1.5%. We are in a food-supply drawdown; in six of the last seven years, humans worldwide consumed more grains and oilseeds than we produced. We are in the fastest food-supply drawdown recorded in the 45-year data. The world’s cropland area has been static or declining for a decade. And we are adding the equivalent of a North American population every six years. Given declining food supplies and a static landbase, it is hard to believe that we can solve our current hunger problems and feed an additional 2.5 billion people and fuel a global proliferation of the SUV culture. We should consider the possibility that we may be heading toward food supply challenges, and that there may be no “surplus” land available to produce biodiesel and ethanol. Finally, there is the question of greenhouse gas emissions. This issue is complex and potentially confusing, but consider the pony-oats analogy again. Imagine a pony that ate all the oats it helped produce. It could produce and consume for 20 years and never yield any surplus oats. In energy balance terms, this is equivalent to an energy balance of 1—the energy (oats) in equals the energy (oats) out, and there is no surplus. Similarly, if you had an ethanol system with an energy balance of 1.0, you could run it round and round, year after year, making and burning ethanol (or burning the ethanol-energy-equivalent in diesel fuel and natural gas), and creating no surplus energy. The greenhouse gas emissions (from fertilizer plants, farm tractors, etc.) would mount, but you ’d never succeed in fueling an automobile even a single mile because you’d never generate any surplus ethanol to put into that car. In this scenario, the greenhouse gas emissions for ethanol would be infinitely greater than for gasoline. Now, consider a situation wherein the ethanol energy balance is 1.5:1. If you burnt the energy equivalent of one unit of ethanol in the ethanol production system, you’d get 1.5 units of energy out. Of those 1.5 units, you’d have 0.5 units surplus, and you’d put the other 1.0 unit back into the system and burn it, yielding the next 1.5 units—another surplus of 0.5. Now you’d have accumulated a total surplus of one unit (0.5 units plus 0.5 units); but you have already burned two units getting that one. And, when you burn the 1 surplus unit in the car, your total will be three units burned: 1 in the car and two in the field and refinery. For comparison—on basis comparable to the 3 units of ethanol burned and emissions produced—simply burning gasoline would yield about 1.25 units of emissions—one unit burned in the car and 0.25 burned in getting the oil and refining the gasoline. For an energy balance of 1.5:1, for a given mile driven by a given car, burning ethanol creates over twice the emissions that burning gasoline creates. Let’s forget the preceding for a moment. Let’s accept what the proponents of biofuels claim: that the use of biofuels reduces greenhouse gas emissions. We could ask: By how much? Moving, over the next five years, to a 5% ethanol blend in Canada will result in little or no reduction in actual gasoline burning because total motor fuel use will probably continue to increase at about 1% per year as it has. Thus, five years from now, even as we add ethanol to the mix, we’ll be burning the same amount of gasoline we are now; plus we’ll be burning about 5% as much again in the form of ethanol—a fuel that, according to proponents, generates only slightly fewer greenhouse gases (and according to many credible sources produces more). Even as we move to adopt biofuels, we are increasing our greenhouse gas emissions from oil-based motorfuels. The widespread adoption of biofuels, seemingly Canada’s only significant current initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will not even begin to tackle the problem. And by some analyses, such a move makes the problem far worse. Conclusion Investing massively in ethanol and biodiesel production may turn out to be the greatest public policy mistake in a generation. As energy sources, even accepting the rosy calculations of proponents, they will never be sufficiently powerful or abundant to replace more than a tiny fraction of petroleum. And for that fraction they do replace, they may well increase greenhouse gas emissions and speed global warming. The fervour with which policymakers, the media, and the public have fastened onto ethanol and biodiesel may simply be a reflection of our fear. We fear what an oil-limited and a climate-change-constrained future may hold for our experiment in economic and energy-use hyper-growth. Our focus on ethanol and biodiesel, like similar attention being paid to hydrogen, may simply be a way of ignoring biophysical limits and pretending that we can double and re-double the size of our global economy and the rate at which we use resources. The dominant belief still seems to be that each generation will be better off than the previous one, and that 9 billion people can eventually come to live like Toronto suburbanites. As we plow into problems created by trying to fuel our castle-in-the-sky civilization on oil, we are now casting around for other solutions, telling ourselves we can fuel it by burning food. One last thing needs to be said, however: This isn’t all bad news for farmers. Clearly, incinerating the world’s food supply in ever-more-numerous SUVs has the potential to create shortages and to drive up grain prices. The current grain supply drawdown began eight years ago, before the advent of significant ethanol or biodiesel production. But biofuel production (coming as it does at a time when grain supplies are touching a thirty-year low and coupled with the reality that we’re adding the equivalent of two-and-a-half Canada’s each year to global population) has the capacity to trigger short term grain shortages that could lead to grain prices doubling, as they did in the mid-’70s and mid-’90s. Ethanol is bad physics, bad biology, and bad policy, but the publicly subsidized vaporization of food stocks can be good for farmers. Despite valid concerns about energy balances or greenhouse gas emissions, the biofuels project will proceed and accelerate. And with or without ethanol or biodiesel, there are almost certainly higher grain prices ahead for farmers. nfu * Our current industrial civilization and its growth-based economy has its detractors. This article won’t examine whether continued production and use of “Hummers”, either as assault or commuter vehicles, is in the best interests of the biosphere or the global population. What this article will do is to analyze the question of whether an automobile-based, industrial economy could be significantly fuelled by biofuels. Can ethanol and biodiesel even partially sustain the status quo? <!--[endif]--> <!--[if !vml]--><!--[endif]--> Food is energy (and vice versa) Modern, industrial agriculture turns fossil fuels into food. Nitrogen fertilizer is synthesized directly from natural gas. Humans are now producing so much nitrogen from fossil fuels that we have doubled the amount of nitrogen cycling in our biosphere. The very high energy content of our food prompted one NFU member to quip that biofuels are a way of “turning energy into food into energy.” This observation has some merit. Biofuels are a project wherein we channel part of our energy-augmented food supply into creating a food-augmented energy supply. ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, Marc & Anita Loiselle *Loiselle Organic Family Farm* 'Holistic Stewardship for Abundant Life' Certified Organic since 1985 Championing Red Fife Wheat *Ferme Biologique Familiale Loiselle* 'Intendance Holistique pour la Vie Abondante' Certifié Biologique depuis 1985 Champions du blé Red Fife Celebrating a century of family farming 1906 - 2006 Le centenaire de notre ferme familiale 1906 - 2006 P.O. Box 25 Vonda, Saskatchewan S0K 4N0 tel: 306-258-2192 fax: 306-258-2169 email: email@example.com website: http://loiselle.ma.googlepages.com Farmer of the Year award – 2007 Organic Crop Improvement Association, Int. Marc Loiselle - board of directors Chairperson, Prairie Red Fife Organic Growers Cooperative Ltd. Marc & Anita Loiselle Worldwide Marriage Encounter provincial registration contact couple A WWME Weekend is a gift you give each other and a wonderful affirming love and life enhancing event. We believe every married couple deserves this experience! Marc Loiselle Communications & Research Director, Organic Agriculture Protection Fund (OAPF), ‘To preserve and protect certified organic food and fibre production’ directeur des communications et recherche, Fonds de Protection de l'Agriculture Biologique (FPAB), ‘Pour protéger et préserver la production d’aliments certifié biologique’ Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) http://www.saskorganic.com “Biotechnology and GM crops are taking us down a dangerous road, creating the classic conditions for hunger, poverty and even famine. Ownership and control concentrated in too few hands and a food supply based on too few varieties planted widely are the worst option for food security.” Christian Aid “La planète est le bien commun de l’humanité. En prendre soin donne un sens à la vie” SOS-Planète ==================== Email from: Sandra Finley, Saskatoon 306-373-8078; firstname.lastname@example.org Email network started in year 2000 Joined Green Party in May 2006 Leader, Green Party of Saskatchewan, Oct 2006 --