RIO DE JANEIRO, Oct 5 (Tierramérica).- Animal fat is the second leading raw material used in making biodiesel in Brazil, representing 14.62 percent of the total in July, following soybean oil (78.7 percent).
Both come from big cattle and monoculture operations, contravening the official biodiesel program, which aims to foment family farming.
At least five biodiesel factories obtain beef fat from sources involved deforestation and labor infractions, including slave labor, according to the recently completed study by Repórter Brasil, a non-governmental organization known for denouncing modern-day slavery.
Thais Brianezi, of the biofuel monitoring center of Repórter Brasil, told Tierramérica that this calls into question the discourse of the sustainability of biodiesel as a means to fight climate change, given that cattle ranching is the activity most responsible for Amazon deforestation.
CARACAS, Oct 5 (Tierramérica).- With cameras in hand, youths from the environmental group Vida Marina (Marine Life) use boats to track the dolphins in the Caribbean off the coast of the Venezuelan state of Aragua. They are putting together a dolphin database.
They focus the camera lenses on the dorsal fins, which serve as a sort of fingerprint to identify the individual cetaceans.
"We are creating a database on the dolphins we observe in the area in order to determine which ones use it as a zone of transit, which ones as their main habitat, and to calculate the populations of the Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) and the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)," Vida Marina researcher Jaime Bolaños told Tierramérica.
The organization hopes its efforts will help create a scientific network that can determine the impact of human activities on the dolphin population. The first catalogue will be ready in late October.
Cultivating Sea Sponges
HAVANA, Oct 5 (Tierramérica).- The creation of farms to grow sea sponges is opening the way for an economic and environmental alternative in Carahatas, a fishing community of 800 people in the central Cuban province of Villa Clara.
An experimental effort on two hectares proved the project's viability and gave rise to larger-scale development. An initial farm of 12 hectares is expected to produce one ton of this marine invertebrate by the middle of next year, program director Ángel Quirós told Tierramérica.
The project humanizes the work of the fisherfolk and offers them a sustainable option, he added.
According to his calculations, the zone has the potential for 15 farms, with each one attended by two people. One ton of sponges fetches more than 15,000 dollars on the international market, for use in bath articles and decoration, among others.
Studying Flora for Biofuels
SANTIAGO, Oct 5 (Tierramérica).- The Chilean government's National Resources Information Center will analyze 30 plant species to determine which are most suitable for developing biofuels and their potential for cultivation in this country.
The study "Zoning for Productive Suitability of Bioenergy Species" will last for seven months and will examine food crops as well as shrubs and trees.
"The government is on the right track: testing more than one (energy) alternative and trying to expand the farm frontier. Chile currently has a great deal of land that is not being used," Manuel Paneque, University of Chile researcher and coordinator of the physic nut (Jatropha curcas) study, told Tierramérica.
Other species being considered are sorghum, wheat, safflower, flax, sunflower, hawthorn, eucalyptus, willow, poplar and paulownia.
Betting on Renewable Energies
TEGUCIGALPA, Oct 5 (Tierramérica).- In the next two months Honduras is launching several renewable energy products that could save the country 87 million dollars and improve the operations of the government's national electrical energy agency.
Through bids for production of 450 megawatts from renewable sources, the Honduran government aims to reduce its imports of fossil fuels, for which it currently spends about one billion dollars a year.
The projects are situated in different regions of the country and for the first time will involve the participation of small energy producers, backed by the government and international cooperation, clean energy government adviser Moisés Starkman told Tierramérica.
According to deputy environment minister Mauricio Reconco, Honduras has strong potential in renewable energies that should be developed in order to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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