The ethics of biofuels

May 09, 2011

An article in the current issue of Global Change Biology Bioenergy outlines a framework for evaluating biofuels in order to address ethical issues surrounding the rapidly evolving race to develop biofuels.

Professor Joyce Tait, Chair of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party on Biofuels, and Scientific Adviser to the Innogen Centre at Edinburgh University, reports on the Council's proposed development of a comprehensive ethical standard for biofuels. This standard would address six ethical principles surrounding production of biofuels, including the protection of human rights, , greenhouse gas reduction, and fair trade. Without these principles, there is concern that rushing to meet aggressive biofuel targets could harm the environment and violate human rights.

According to Professor Tait, "Biofuels are one of the only renewable alternatives we have for such as petrol and diesel, but current policies and targets that encourage their uptake have backfired badly. The rapid expansion of biofuels production in the developing world has led to problems such as deforestation and the displacement of indigenous people. We want a more sophisticated strategy that considers the wider consequences of production."

Professor Tait comments that the Nuffield Council urges that the comprehensive ethical standard be adopted worldwide and enforced by a certification scheme. These principles can also be used as a benchmark or model for similar products and technologies.

Explore further: 'Killer sperm' prevents mating between worm species

More information: www.gcbbioenergy.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Current biofuels policies are unethical, says UK report

Apr 13, 2011

Current UK and European policies on biofuels encourage unethical practices, says a report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics today following an 18-month inquiry. Policies such as the European Renewable Energy Directive ...

Study finds concerns with biofuels

Mar 31, 2008

Biofuels are widely considered one of the most promising sources of renewable energy by policy makers and environmentalists alike. However, unless principles and standards for production are developed and implemented, certain ...

The ethics of biofuels

Dec 14, 2010

In the world-wide race to develop energy sources that are seen as "green" because they are renewable and less greenhouse gas-intensive, sometimes the most basic questions remain unanswered.

EU sets tight biofuel standards

Jun 10, 2010

(AP) -- The European Union's top energy official set out tough standards for producing biofuels sold in the EU, demanding producers meet strict environmental criteria.

Biofuels, like politics, are local

Feb 13, 2009

Field work and computer simulations in Michigan and Wisconsin are helping biofuels researchers understand the basics of getting home-grown energy from the field to consumers. Preliminary results presented today suggest that ...

Recommended for you

'Killer sperm' prevents mating between worm species

14 hours ago

The classic definition of a biological species is the ability to breed within its group, and the inability to breed outside it. For instance, breeding a horse and a donkey may result in a live mule offspring, ...

Rare Sri Lankan leopards born in French zoo

17 hours ago

Two rare Sri Lankan leopard cubs have been born in a zoo in northern France, a boost for a sub-species that numbers only about 700 in the wild, the head of the facility said Tuesday.

Japan wraps up Pacific whale hunt

18 hours ago

Japan announced Tuesday that it had wrapped up a whale hunt in the Pacific, the second campaign since the UN's top court ordered Tokyo to halt a separate slaughter in the Antarctic.

Researchers uncover secrets of internal cell fine-tuning

18 hours ago

New research from scientists at the University of Kent has shown for the first time how the structures inside cells are regulated – a breakthrough that could have a major impact on cancer therapy development.

User comments : 0