Bert Brown moved second
reading of Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canadian
Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
Would the honourable senator take a question?
Senator Brown, I wonder if you would make some comments with
regard to the effect of biofuels on food production and food
consumption in Third World countries. In a recent meeting of
the Food and Agriculture Organization, they spoke about
biofuels. What is your analysis of what came out of that
In answer to the honourable senator, I believe that biofuels
are definitely in their infancy, especially in Canada. I
know that in the United States an awful lot of rhetoric
about the dangers of global warming accelerated the process
of biofuel in America. I am told they built 100 biofuel
plants. Then, coincidentally, after seven years of less
agriculture production than the world requires, they ran
right smack into perhaps one of the worst food shortages in
The United States, the largest
producer of biofuel, uses only a very small fraction of the
corn they grow for the production of ethanol. The U.S.
produces 80 per cent of its corn for animal consumption —
hogs and cattle — and 20 per cent for human consumption.
Furthermore, the amount of corn used for export is
negligible compared to the amount of wheat that it exports.
My understanding is that most of the people suffering from a
lack of food supply are dependent more on rice than on corn
or any other crop.
May I ask a supplementary?
Ethanol production certainly was
touted as a strong economic factor for Saskatchewan.
However, it does not seem to have really taken off. Is that
due to the change in the price of wheat so that ethanol
production is no longer seen as a viable option for grain
Again, the production and use of ethanol is in its infancy.
There are two or three plants in Saskatchewan, but we need
time to prove that ethanol and biodiesel are better in many
ways. They are better concerning lower greenhouse gas
emissions. They also produce more horse power for the same
amount of fuel. As we move forward with this 5 per cent, we
will find a number of things will happen. First, we will be
able to use other things than the actual grain itself; we
will be able to use the stalks of corn called corn stover.
We will be able to use canola that is frozen because of an
early frost. Frozen canola turns very bitter and is not
suitable for humans, but the oil can be used as fuel.
Concerning wheat grains, there are a
number of soft wheats that can be used in ethanol
production. These wheat varieties have a high yield and are
not the type that we would use for making bread; they are
more suited to animal feed.
There is ample proof, both from the
horse power standpoint and from the lower emissions
standpoint that renewable fuel products, like ethanol or
biodiesel, are certainly worth pursuing a ways down the
road. That will allow us to prove whether we can produce
them without using up farmland that produces food for people
to whom we export. It will allow us to prove whether such
crops are worthwhile, not just from the standpoint of lower
emissions but economically as well.
I do not think you can judge economics
from the small pilot plants that we have in Canada.
I know Americans are quite
enthusiastic about the economics of biofuels, but I believe
the government has put a considerable subsidy into the
actual price of the product. That makes it more difficult to
decide what the final economics will be.