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Last Updated: Monday, 25 September 2006, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Biofuels 'answer' to trade talks
Ted Turner, former vice chairman of AOL Time Warner
Ted Turner made his billions in the US media industry
US tycoon Ted Turner has said a focus on biofuels could break the current deadlock stalling world trade talks.

Speaking at a World Trade Organization forum, Mr Turner said huge demand for plant-based fuels could help farmers and reduce their need for state aid.

He said subsidies and tariffs should be replaced by support for biofuels.

The current five-year long Doha round of trade talks are suspended because of a failure to reach an agreement over agricultural subsidies and tariffs.

UN Foundation

"Farmers have always grown crops for food and fibre," Mr Turner said.

"Today, farmers can grow crops for food, fuel and fibre. The global demand for biofuels is huge and rising.

"That's why I'm confident that in the near future, farmers' incomes will be assured, not by subsidies and tariffs, but by market forces."

Mr Turner was speaking in his role as chairman of the United Nations Foundation, which was set up in 1998 after he gave $1bn to support UN causes and activities

Traffic in Sao Paulo city centre
Brazilian cars have been running on bioethanol for years

The UN Foundation is promoting the production and use of biofuels in developing countries and wants to attract more foreign and domestic investment in the area.

"By investing in biofuels, developing countries can produce their own domestic transportation fuels, cut their energy costs, improve public health, create new jobs in the rural economy and ultimately build export markets," Mr Turner said.

Environmental concerns

Biofuels are a renewable energy source made from agricultural produce or its by-products, including manure, rape seed, soya beans, cane sugar and palm oil.

They include ethanol, which is used in cars and for cooking, and biodiesel, which is used for trucks and generators.

The European Union recently issued a directive calling for biofuels to meet 5.75% of its transportation fuel needs by 2010.

But some experts have warned of the potential downsides from a huge growth in biofuels.

Much of the fuel would be made from plants grown in Brazil and Southeast Asia, where rainforests are being destroyed to plant crops.

UK 'lacks ambition' on bioenergy
18 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature

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