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An Earth Day Bio-fuels Reality Check

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Thursday, April 19, 2007   


There is currently a stampede to build bio-fuel plants and switch thousands of acres of Iowa farmland to corn for ethanol production. Proponents of bio-fuels envision energy independence and a needed economic boost to rural America. But as Earth Day approaches, Eric Holt-Giminez of Food First, sees troubling signs for both the environment and the rural economy.

"We need to put the infrastructure in place to be able to produce and consume as locally as possible, so we can revitalize local economies based on production and consumption of good, healthy food.

He believes bio-fuels are not a long-term solution to rural economic ills, but food production for local sale is. Julia Olstead is an Iowa State University graduate student who is also a fellow with the Land Institute. She warns when crop production expands for fuel, it's destructive to the environment.

"As corn production expands, which it's doing, we see increases in soil erosion, increased nutrient runoff into our groundwater."

She notes that food consumers and the environment may see little benefit in the rush to produce bio-fuels, and instead she believes it will hurt fuel conservation efforts as people are convinced they can continue to drive as much as they like as long as they use bio-fuels.


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