02 Jun 2009 12:06:05
Friends of the Earth questions jatropha benefits
Biofuels produced from jatropha are being touted as a significant step forward for alternative fuel, however a new report has warned that the 'wonder crop' may be negatively impacting global food production.
Jatropha has been in the headlines this week after details were revealed of a test flight by Air New Zealand in which a mix of the biofuel and Jet A1 delivered a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
However, Friends of the Earth (FoE) has published a new report which investigated claims that the crop is capable of growing on poor-quality land that is not required for arable farming.
Researchers found that jatropha can grow in semi-arid land, although yields under such conditions are unlikely to be sufficient for farmers to make a profit.
What's more, FoE claimed that the crop can require regular watering, which is posing problems for farmers in Swaziland where lack of water is an issue.
Such factors have encouraged some farmers in the country to begin growing jatropha on land set aside for food, the report warned.
"It is shameful that this so-called wonder crop is replacing food production in a country where two thirds of the population depend on food aid," said Hannah Griffiths, biofuels campaigner at FoE.
"The EU must assess the damage being done by jatropha as part of its biofuels review next year."http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/reports/jatropha_wonder_cro...