ONCE upon a time, biofuels were thought of as a solution to fossil-fuel dependence. Now they are widely seen as a boondoggle to agribusiness that hurts the environment and cheats taxpayers. A report commissioned by the United Nations endorses neither extreme. It gives high marks to some crop-based fuels and lambasts others.

Ethanol from sugarcane is not an option available to water-deficient India
Subir Roy / New Delhi September 16, 2009, 0:36 IST

Ethanol from sugarcane is not an option available to water-deficient India.

Sanjib Kumar Roy

ISLAND PURA: ABDUL KALAM' S VISION FOR ANDAMANSEXTENDING his dream plan of PURA (providing urban amenities in rural areas) to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam said that he visualised Island PURA for the welfare and better employment opportunities of islanders.

Emami Biotech, a part of the Rs 2,000-crore Emami Group, will invest Rs 400 crore in a plantation project over five years in Oromia in Ethiopia. The company will engage in plantation of biofuel crops (jatropha) and other edible and non-edible oil seeds on 100,000 acres allotted to Emami Biotech by the Oromia Investment Commission.

US start-up Joule Biotechnologies hopes to make commercial amounts of motor fuel by feeding engineered organisms high concentrations of carbon dioxide and sunlight, its top executive said.

Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC) has launched a number of projects aimed at cultivating bio-fuel crops for the production of fuel products to enable the country save huge amounts spent on fuel imports.

Africa is taking the lead in creating its own biotechnology agenda, according to researchers based at South Africa's Durban University of Technology and the University of Kwazulu-Natal.

Last year the skyrocketing cost of food was a wake-up call for the planet. Between 2005 and the summer of 2008, the price of wheat and corn tripled, and the price of rice climbed fivefold, spurring food riots in nearly two dozen countries and pushing 75 million more people into poverty.

The U.S. biofuels industry would be hamstrung if government regulators choose to use unfair and untested formulas that hold it responsible for greenhouse gases from crops overseas, ethanol groups said on Thursday.

Scientists in California, US, are reporting the use of a new bioprocess that could help pave the way for producing biofuels from agricultural waste, easing concerns about stress on the global food supply from using corn and other food crops.