South Africa’s new government lead the way in banning smoking in public (even the French can’t smoke in their cafe now) and seem to be making good decisions again.
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Responding to the potential food and particularly maize supply problems, the Agriculture Minister Lulu Xingwana has refused to ban exports arguing that this would limit the market available to farmers and therefore constrain the expansion of production.
Minister Xingwana also restated South Africa’s position on maize for ethanol production
“Corn will not be used for biofuels because we believe it is the staple food, not only for SA, but also for many countries in Africa,” Xingwana said.
It would be interesting to hear how the government would react to ethanol from sorghum and millet proposals. It also raises the question of how the government’s strategic goal for biofuels to account for 2% of total fuel consumption by 2013. Will it mean that sugar, which is probably the most efficient route to fuel anyway, will have to contribute more or will soya and sunflower with their byproduct problems be able to offer cost effective production. The contribution of second generation (eg cellulosic ethanol and algal biodiesel) and later processes are not sufficiently far advanced to make a contribution in this small time scale.