Anticipating the food vs fuel debate

Sreenivas Ghatty points me to a interview with Thomas M. Connelly, Executive Vice President & Chief Innovation Officer of DuPont. The main important part of the interview is the discussion on the food vs fuel debate in bio fuels.

But how is it that DuPont, which thinks much ahead of others, was caught on the wrong foot on this issue of using food crops?

It is not a question we did not recognise. We thought the timescale on which we will move there would be different. Keep in mind, for example, that certain other agricultural commodities were trading at low prices for decades. And frankly, many farmers were looking for additional markets for their products.

So while we recognised that in time the supply trends would become a limiting factor, that the grand plan would accelerate in a matter of five years we never anticipated. We thought it would be at least ten years. The pace at which this has been progressing has been surprising to us.

I think it is because of the global emphasis on climate change, run up in the prices of petroleum. All these are pushing us to non-food crop sources of carbon material for the production of fuel.

I should say we anticipated the direction but not the speed at which we would reach there.

This is the interesting part. How fast the food prices have gone up and the increasing ban on exports from various countries. In some cases, countries like India are ready to sacrifice growth to curb food inflation.


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