People invariably ask, given we have only recently started in this business, why did we choose to work on biofuels?
In deciding research priorities we have several criteria. One is that we would not try to duplicate the work of others. Another is that when we look into subsidies to a particular sector, the sector should be one that is subsidized by many countries.
The recent surge in international energy prices has placed energy subsidies at the forefront of the economic policy agenda in many countries, particularly where government interventions are intended to keep prices low to households and industry, or to protect indigenous energy industries from foreign competition.
A searchable database that tracks federal spending by the United States government will come on-line by 2008, following legislation passed in September. The Web-based search engine, which will include all federal funding to public and private organizations, has been hailed as a victory for transparency in government operations by a broad coalition of advocacy groups.
The last round of World Trade Organization (WTO) trade talks, the Uruguay Round, broke new ground by broadening the scope of world trade rules to cover areas never before subject to multilateral disciplines, and the services sector was without doubt where such broadening was most significant in economic terms.
A healthy agricultural sector needs plenty of sunlight. To that, our guest commentators this month would add that it also requires a bright light on farm subsidies. Jack Thurston and Nils Mulvad, the founders of Farmsubsidy.org, are two people who have helped foster greater transparency in agricultural subsidies by pressuring governments in the European Union to publish data on payments and recipients of farm subsidies.
If the United States cut ethanol tariffs and subsidies, prices would drop in the US as imports rise dramatically, according to a new report by Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (CARD).
Asian governments are caught between an ever-increasing demand for cheap energy to fuel development and an unabating rise in global oil prices. A few South-east Asian governments are feeling the financial pain of costly fuel subsidies and are looking elsewhere for energy sources.
The hunt for alternative energy sources has led Asian nations to explore biofuel technology, among others.
Ethanol and other biofuels allow us to use solar energy (collected by plants or even salvaged from trash) instead of fossil fuels just by mixing them with the gasoline and diesel we already use. There is a lot to be said for them, and the government (U.S.) is right to encourage their use.
The business of biofuels is booming. Rarely has a product of agriculture seen its market expand by double-digit growth rates year in and year out. But that is exactly what is happening as a result of the phenomenal demand for alternatives to petroleum-derived gasoline and diesel: respectively, bio-ethanol and biodiesel.
WTO World Trade Report on Subsidies
On July 24 - the day the G6 talks broke down at the World Trade Organization (WTO), leading to the suspension of the Doha Round - the WTO Secretariat released the 2006 World Trade Report. This year's report focuses on subsidies. Readers will find this to be one of the most comprehensive surveys of the subsidy literature, and data, written to date.