Biofuels Policy — Death and Disease Follow

The inestimable Indur Goklany has an important new report on biofuels and developing countries. “Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries?” appears in the Spring 2011 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. In his analysis, Goklany concludes that biofuels production “may have led to at least 192,000 additional deaths and 6.7 million additional lost DALYS [Disability Adjusted Life Years] in 2010.” He points out that those estimates may be low:

These estimates are conservative.

First, they exclude consideration of a number of health risks that are, in fact, directly related to poverty (e.g., indoor smoke from burning coal, wood and dung indoors; and iron deficiency). Second, the analysis only considered the poverty effects of biofuel production over and above the 2004 level; therefore, it does not provide a full estimate of the effect of all biofuel production. Despite the underestimations, these estimates exceed the WHO’s estimates of the toll of death and disease for global warming. Thus, policies to stimulate biofuel production, in part to reduce the alleged impacts of global warming on public health, particularly in developing countries, may actually have increased death and disease globally.

CEI has long warned of the human, land, and environmental problems with ethanol mandates, incentives and other subsidies for biofuel production.  See here and here and here (which includes discussions relating to the politics of ethanol).