Thank you very much, Mr. Chairperson, and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you and hopefully broaden the discussion to include habitat as part of the impacts of biofuel strategy.
Ducks Unlimited Canada is a private non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation, restoration, and management of Canada's wetlands and associated habitats for the benefit of waterfowl, wildlife, and people. DU works with many industries, including agriculture and government, to develop and implement land management systems that are both economically and ecologically sound.
DU's first priority in all these efforts is to find land uses that provide improved habitat to grow and sustain continental waterfowl populations. However, DU recognizes that if waterfowl-friendly production systems are going to find their place on the landscape, they also have to make economic sense. In this context DU believes that if executed correctly, a Canadian biofuel strategy could make a significant contribution to meeting North American waterfowl management plan population goals.
DU is the main delivery arm of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and this plan identifies species-specific population goals for various waterfowl species in North America. The Canadian Prairies are often referred to as the North American duck factory, as on average approximately 40% of the continental duck population breeds there. Lack of adequate quantity and quality of upland nesting habitat has been identified as the key limiting factor to waterfowl production on the Canadian Prairies.
Upland nesting habitat comes in many forms, including perennial grasses, managed wildlife habitat, native and tame pastures, hayfields, trees and forest areas, annual cropland, and remnant native areas.
Since our inception in 1938, DU has delivered science-guided conservation programs to meet the needs of North America's waterfowl while respecting other users of the land. We endeavour to evaluate and, where appropriate, support initiatives that are environmentally, economically, and ethically sound. Biofuels are a recent example of this. Depending on the feedstock used and the agricultural production system employed, an expanded ethanol production system could either be beneficial or detrimental to waterfowl habitat and to the environment overall.
On making ethanol greener, smarter, and better, increased biofuel production in Canada has the potential to impact waterfowl habitat directly and indirectly. Indirect habitats could include increased risk of contamination of wetlands through intensification of production systems; loss of wetlands, perennial grasslands, and existing native habitat to drainage and clearing to provide additional cultivated acres; and reduced conversion of marginal and annually cropped land to perennial cover.
Direct impacts to habitat could be made through the selection of feedstock for biofuel production. DU has conducted nest searches on thousands of acres of cropland and other habitats to evaluate their use by nesting waterfowl. Based on these analyses, not all land uses are equally valuable from a habitat perspective. Annually cropped land is generally viewed as the least productive nesting habitat for waterfowl. Winter cereals, such as winter wheat, have been found to be the exception to this rule in that they provide both attractive and successful habitats for upland nesting waterfowl. Perennial grasslands, including native prairie and hay, have been found to provide improved nesting habitat for upland nesting waterfowl. An additional benefit from perennial grasslands is also an associated increase in landscape level nest survival.
Among biofuels, ethanol has the greatest potential to provide improved waterfowl habitat in Canada. The following discussion will focus on the potential habitat impacts of grain- and cellulose-based ethanol production.
Corn is the dominant grain used in ethanol production in North America, and as many of you know, on the Canadian Prairies corn is not generally a viable cropping option. Currently spring wheat is the primary feedstock that is locally grown for ethanol plants in western Canada, and as mentioned earlier, spring-seeded cropland provides poor nesting habitat as spring seeding operations overlap with peak nesting initiation, leaving most nests vulnerable for destruction from tillage.
If grain-based ethanol production relies primarily on spring-seeded crops such as corn, wheat, or other cereals, wildlife habitat will remain, at best, status quo. However, if winter wheat and other winter cereals were utilized as the primary feedstock for ethanol production on the Canadian Prairies, there would be an increase in nesting cover available for waterfowl and other upland nesting bird species. These statements do presume that an expanded grain-based ethanol production system would not result in the conversion of existing upland and wetland habitats to annual cropland.
Cellulosic ethanol production could provide for favourable waterfowl habitat, depending on the feedstock that's utilized. If annual crop residue is the feedstock of choice, the waterfowl benefit or disbenefit would be similar to that of grain-based systems.
Perennial crop feedstock alternatives do have the potential to provide improved habitat. The key to the value of this habitat lies in the production system, the land use that would be displaced by that feedstock, and the harvest date and method.
Switchgrass and other perennial grasses hold the greatest promise for concurrently producing ethanol feedstock and waterfowl habitat on the Canadian Prairies. Perennial grasses that are hayed annually, as anticipated in an ethanol feedstock production system, provide the greatest waterfowl habitat value when cutting occurs after the nesting season, which is mid to late July.
Stubble height post-cutting is also important, as most grass species have not begun to grow in late April and early May, when waterfowl initiate their nest, which means the residual cover from the past crop is the nesting cover.
Production systems that include burning during the nesting season would, of course, be detrimental to waterfowl and other grassland nesting birds.
In landscapes where agriculture and forestry interface, there is a potential to use wood fibre as a feedstock. Ducks Unlimited works with many members of the forestry industry to develop best management practices to minimize harvest impacts on waterfowl habitat. If feedstock came from sawmill waste, we anticipate that the effect on waterfowl habitat would be minimal, as no additional lands would be harvested.
In cases where additional existing forested lands were harvested or new woodlots were established to provide feedstock, the waterfowl habitat could be significant. The type of impact is currently unknown, and Ducks Unlimited is undertaking research to understand the relationship between habitat impacts and waterfowl populations in areas such as the southern boreal forest.
Ducks Unlimited believes that, if implemented correctly, a Canadian biofuel strategy could truly provide multi-functional benefits. These benefits could include economic development in rural prairie Canada, reduction of greenhouse gases associated with fuel production and consumption, increase in and extension of Canada's energy reserves, and improvement in wildlife habitat. If feedstock is selected for more than just its ability to produce starch, government and industry can implement a biofuel strategy that provides these benefits.
Ducks Unlimited respectfully recommends that the government take steps to maximize these environmental benefits if overall environmental improvement is one of the government's goals in supporting the development of a biofuel industry.
Specific actions that could ensure multi-functional benefits include the following.
First is providing preferential incentives to those companies that select feedstock that results in additional environmental benefits. We believe sound science is available to support the habitat value of both winter cereals and perennial forage-based ethanol production.
Second is development of a science plan, involving government, industry, and academia, to study the values that accrue from expansion of the ethanol industry in Canada. Ducks Unlimited would be pleased to participate in this effort and provide leadership in areas where we have expertise.
In addition, we recommend that the government further examine the impact of various feedstock productions on net greenhouse gas and energy balances, and impacts on water quantity and quality.
In addition to our professional staff, Ducks Unlimited has nearly 1,000 volunteers committed to fulfilling our mission, along with more than 176,000 Canadians who support us. Development of an alliance between government, the biofuel industry, and Ducks Unlimited could make the industry greener, better, and smarter, and we look forward to pursuing these opportunities to make it a reality.
Ducks Unlimited Canada is grateful for the opportunity to present our thoughts to this committee and welcomes any and all questions.
The grain sector in the United States is huge, producing 450 million tonnes or nearly 20% of the world's grain. Our experience over the past 33 years, which has been shaped by a series of farm bills that continually influence our day-to-day operations, clearly shows that it is difficult, if not impossible, to remain competitive if you are not given the same opportunities. This applies to market development, support for research and expertise, and income protection.
In a world economy faced with shortages of hydrocarbons for energy purposes, but also for industrial production, grains represent a very attractive alternative as a source of carbohydrates and lipids that can be used or processed into various industrial products, including fuel.
For that reason, a lower price can now be set for this natural, renewable raw material. Grain producers in Canada and Quebec can certainly not remain competitive without this kind of protection. Providing this protection and support for the industry will have even better results if producers have access to a share of the income generated by this industry. Having a share of the value added will also stabilize incomes.
The federation views the discussion about giving priority to the use of agricultural commodities for food purposes to be a false debate. The economy being what it is, the main problem surrounding the use of commodities for industrial purposes is simply that carbohydrates and lipids derived from grain are not priced at their proper value.
There will simply be competition between the production of essential goods and the production of less essential goods. In the latter case, the excessively low price for this source of carbohydrates and lipids make them attractive for industrial production and energy use. This is true not just for grain, but also for the resources used in growing grain, such as minerals, energy, farm land, water, financial resources and, of course, the human resources involved in research, know-how and entrepreneurship.
We think that humanity will have to choose and set priorities at some point. This problem is becoming increasingly evident because of economic growth in developing countries. As you know, world grain stocks have evaporated over the past 10 years, dropping form 600 million tonnes to 300 million tonnes, and this happened well before the lastest developments in the biofuel industry in the United States.
The federation is of the view that farm families in Canada and Quebec should not have to pay the price for the refusal by multinationals and urban dwellers to place an adequate value on plant protein and calories for food, even though the available quantity of these nutrients today is limited.
Although cellulose may seem a more acceptable alternative to many people, the same issue arises since the competition between these resources is no longer about how the grain is used but rather how the increasingly limited agricultural land is used. Farmland will always be more productive, given that the most productive land has been cleared to grow food.
This bioeconomy based on farm commodity and farmland is a necessary and inevitable step. We believe that ignoring it will greatly weaken the competitiveness of the grain industry and Canadian agriculture. It is vital that this issue be considered along with the environmental and energy issues. The federation has often been questioned at this committee about why Canada should support its agricultural industry, when doing so seems to help other countries, according to some people.
Our answer has not changed. Support for agriculture through direct subsidies or structural policies like the one on biofuels is tied to a very simple reality. Grains, carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and plant calories that are produced and consumed here or exported have a beneficial impact on the agricultural community and Canadian society in general, but also on all societies in the world.
Whether we are talking about the 70 million tonnes of grain produced by Canada, the five million tonnes in Quebec or the hundreds of millions of tonnes produced in various rural regions of Quebec, this grain production makes a difference around the world. We may be naive about how the world works and the relations between its various peoples, but from our understanding, given that resources are increasingly limited, government support for the grain sector is probably the best opportunity for a humanitarian investment that Canada has had in recent years. That is basically how people see it who have lived off the land for generations.
It is also worth noting that the agricultural policy being proposed for the grain sector, which is based almost entirely on trying to develop industrial demand and sharing in value-added opportunities, will never be successful without adequate protection at the bottom of the chain. That is why the Quebec-Ontario Grain Coalition, of which we are a member, has been calling on the government for nearly 18 months to bring in flexible mechanisms and support to meet the particular needs of the various agrifood or agro-industrial chains of production in Canada.
This new mechanism is based on a so-called AgriFlex approach, which is designed to fit in perfectly with the various federal income support programs proposed by the Conservative government as part of its Growing Foward policy. AgriFlex is aimed at encouraging the provinces and producers to create companion programs to deal with regional disparities in protective measures to deal with the cyclical declines in farm income experienced in the grain sector.
Family farms would necessarily become more viable from a succession standpoint, since they would be able to count on long-term financial planning. Basically, AgriFlex would be funded from a federal envelope provided to provincial governments so that they could fund regional programs such as agricultural income support programs, including the Quebec Income Stabilization Program and Ontario's SRM, which are both aimed at the grain sector. AgriFlex would offer the flexibility required so that the federal funds could be used to partner with these regional income support programs or other regional programs focused on market development or research.
After five years of disastrously low prices, grain prices have risen again recently but remain extremely volatile and vulnerable to a sharp decline at any time. Farm families would like to see less volatility and more predictability. Because the market cannot achieve that goal on its own, we feel that this type of partnership with the government is needed in order to increase predictability and protect the viability of family farms.
In conclusion, the Fédération des producteurs de cultures commerciales du Québec is convinced that the grain industry in Canada has no choice but to tap into the same opportunities as the huge grain industry to the south of us; that the use of grain for energy and industrial purposes and therefore the biofuel policy are part of a necessary and evolving process; and that to achieve this objective we need important regulatory amendments such as those found in Bill C-33.
Finally, the success of this biofuel policy and the development of industrial products in Canada absolutely requires adequate support for the grain sector, which is at the base of the value chain.
Thank you very much, and good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I am pleased to be before you today to speak on , An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
Thank you for this opportunity to tell you why we believe that this bill and biofuels need your support.
I represent Canadian Bioenergy Corporation, a Vancouver-based company currently distributing biodiesel across Canada, with advanced planning for a large-scale biodiesel plant near Edmonton, Alberta. I'm also the president of the Alberta Biodiesel Association, which represents the full value chain of biodiesel interests in Alberta and whose members have the potential to produce a significant portion of Canada's biodiesel supply, based on currently available feedstocks and those non-food feedstocks we are researching and hope to utilize as soon as they are viable.
My statements reflect the experience of five years of working with the leaders of the biodiesel industry in Canada, starting at a time when this smart biofuel was entirely unknown and extending to the situation today where biodiesel is a household word and in use in large fleets across the country. It has accomplished this status because it works; because its benefits are immediate, scientifically sound, and verifiable; and because the farmers, the economy, and the environment benefit when it is used.
During my remarks I would like to make three things clear.
Number one, Bill is the most direct means by which the government can support the most positive development in Canadian agriculture in the last three decades. Bill C-33 will launch a new industry that will improve our environment, provide market stability in the traditionally challenged agricultural sector, and incent research and development for even more advanced biofuels.
Secondly, timing is critical. Financial markets are looking for certainty of policy in order to step in. They will take the risk, but they will not be reckless.
Third and last, biodiesel produced in Canada is an excellent fuel in terms of operability. It works in the full range of conditions in Canada and in terms of sustainability. It has a clear positive benefit for the environment, which I will describe further.
In the case of Canadian-made biodiesel, Bill will support a smart, advanced biofuel that reduces greenhouse gases in excess of 75% over those of diesel and improves dirty urban air, reducing respiratory illness in our large cities. It is renewable. Its use will extend available reserves of petroleum for future high-value purposes. It creates a new market. Its use will help smooth out the commodity-driven market swings that have held agricultural producers captive for decades. And it will add value to the agriculture sector. We will do more than just grow and export grains if we have a Canadian biodiesel industry.
Our society runs on diesel engines. Biodiesel is the only currently available and approved biofuel for the diesel engines that move us and the goods we consume. We live side by side with diesel exhaust every day: on transit and school buses, on downtown streets, on trains, in harbours, and increasingly in passenger cars. Biodiesel is an excellent climate change tool, but it is also an excellent local air quality tool.
Agricultural producers are huge supporters of biodiesel. I am told by the members of the canola growers advisory council that assists our company that canola growers know high prices will not last, and when prices do drop, producers will have a new market—biodiesel—to fall back on. This is significant in the context of the billions of dollars spent every year for Canadian agricultural support payments, federally and provincially. In the United States, the USDA has calculated savings in the billions of dollars diverted from historical price support programs as a direct result of federal government incentives for the biofuels industry.
Programs that support direct ownership in biofuels manufacture, such as the ecoagriculture biofuels capital initiative, also known as ecoABC, will ensure that Canadian farmers will be owners in the industry. Our company is very clear that producers must benefit from this industry, and we have structured our company so that they will.
Actions are required now to ensure market demand. Canada will be in good company as it takes steps to ensure renewable content in its fuel pools. OECD countries, particularly the European member states, have had clear biofuels policies for years and continue to expand them. Canada is late to the game but is fast catching up. But time is of the essence. This industry can stand on its own feet only when it has fully established the production capacity to be competitive internationally.
The private capital required to build the biofuels production plants needs clear, long-term commitment to the industry from federal and provincial governments. Without the assured market demand coming from the blend level provisions of the renewable fuel standard, biofuel production plants and supporting infrastructure will not be built in Canada. Delay in passing this legislation risks losing the tremendous biofuels opportunity, especially for the Canadian farmers who stand ready to participate in this new and important industry.
Two decisions must be made to ensure there is sufficient demand to establish this nascent industry. The first decision you can make immediately: pass without delay. The absence of specific regulations to define how renewable content will be achieved should not delay the passage of this critical bill.
In a few months' time, we will need the second decision you and your colleagues can make, namely, to get biodiesel on the same timetable as that for ethanol—January 1, 2010. What do I mean by this? The original renewable fuel standard timetable developed in the late summer of 2006 pushed biodiesel implementation to as late as 2012. Our industry needs an implementation date of January 1, 2010. Delaying a biodiesel mandate until almost four years from now will, simply stated, kill or significantly delay new plant construction and would be a wholly unnecessary delay, defensible on neither technical nor policy grounds.
We expect in the next few months to successfully complete the most important requirement for a 2010 RFS date, namely a pilot test to confirm full operability of biodiesel in extreme cold weather. In many years and in many millions of kilometres of road tests in Canada, across Europe, and throughout the United States, biodiesel use, when produced and handled to strict quality specifications and guidelines, has established its efficacy and safety so that we can support with confidence the adoption of biodiesel in the Canadian fuel marketplace.
There are no reasons to delay the timetable another two years. British Columbia, where I live, will have a 5% renewable mandate in diesel fuel by 2010, and if B.C. can do a 5% mandated blend, the federal government can most certainly implement a 2% renewable mandate in diesel fuels by 2010. Loopholes, such as renewable credit carryovers, market out measures, or adoption delays, will only harm the establishment of the renewable fuels production industry in Canada. Credible sustained market access for renewable fuels must be observed by the regulatory regime adopted pursuant to
Canadian biodiesel is a sustainable smart fuel. Biodiesel made from Canadian canola provides an immediate carbon reduction strategy. Canola biodiesel makes the superior cold weather biodiesel required by Canadian climatic conditions, and it is grown in surplus and in abundance in a full life cycle, sustainable manner on non-irrigated, established arable lands across the Canadian Prairies, and in lesser amounts in Ontario and Quebec.
I wish to address suggestions that biofuels can cause environmental degradation and that feedstock cultivation methods in biofuel production processes release more carbon than they displace, through their use as transportation fuel. Canada's largest anticipated biodiesel feedstock, canola, has proven it has significant benefits environmentally. It has greenhouse gas reductions in excess of 75%. It returns three units of energy for every single unit of fossil fuel used to produce it, and it will bring only minimal new land area under cultivation. High biodiversity ecosystems and established carbon sink lands will not be harmed from crop production.
Canadian biodiesel will also not cause food shortages or drive up food prices. Canada grows more than enough canola to fill the federal renewable fuel mandate set out by In addition, the Canadian Renderers Association has indicated that Canadian-produced fats and rendered recycled greases are also available in substantial volumes for biodiesel production in Canada.
At a 70:30 ratio of canola to fats and oils in feedstocks supplies for biodiesel production in Canada, the federal government's recently announced requirement that 2% of the volume of diesel fuels used in Canada be renewable fuel will require approximately 900,000 tonnes of canola seed. This compares with the carryover of canola seed—that portion of the crop unsold at the end of the year—which is well under that for future years, and has been for the last three years.
With the U.S. and European legislative and regulatory measures, it be will be an important part of the regulatory process under to ensure that biofuels adopted by the Canadian marketplace do not lead to unsustainable or harmful practices in biofuel production and use. The global biofuels industry is founded on the premise and promise of a better environmental fuel supply. Our biofuel regulations must ensure that biofuels credited toward to RFS requirements do not contribute to more greenhouse gases or air pollutants. We must protect biodiversity, sensitive wetlands, watersheds, and endangered species. The biodiesel produced in Canada will meet the most rigorous international sustainability standards for biofuels, and we must act to ensure that any imported biofuels are certified to meet Canada's environmental standard.
We encourage this committee to support this legislation.
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to appear this afternoon before the committee. I will be pleased to answer all of your questions.
I was asked to present my views in front of your committee. I'm not accustomed to hearings of this nature. I am a scientist. I am a professor at the university, and I hold the chair in cellulosic ethanol and second-generation biofuels. I also have a large number of activities in the real world outside of the university with the companies I have helped to restructure and function in the area of biofuels and bioenergy.
Since my predecessor made an eloquent pitch for biodiesel, I will skip comments on biodiesel and focus on comments on cellulosic ethanol, preceded by some comments on grain ethanol.
I think it's important that we understand there is a large consensus in Canada, at both the federal and provincial levels, on the need to move towards mandated targets. In the case of ethanol, it's 5% ethanol in gasoline by 2010. Some provinces, like Quebec, say 2012. This is a small argument between the province and the federal level, but I think the focus is to move towards this 5% as quickly as we can. This represents a market, in the case of ethanol, of two billion litres per year in Canada, of which 767 million litres today are produced from grain ethanol. An added capacity of 680 million litres will also come from grain ethanol in 2008 and 2009.
In Quebec, we have GreenField Ethanol, a Varennes plant that produces a little over 120 million litres per year. However, in Quebec there have been voices raised against grain ethanol. The voices indicate that grain ethanol should be capped at some number out of these two billion litres a year and that the next generation of ethanol should come from cellulosic residues. That seems to be not only a Canadian choice, but also a choice in America and Brazil, where gas is going to be used more and more for second-generation ethanol.
And why this second-generation ethanol? It's because there are some constraints in extending the use of grain for carbohydrate for ethanol. We think it will be advantageous if the same companies that are retiring grain ethanol are moving towards cellulosic ethanol progressively to meet the mandates of both the federal and provincial governments.
Cellulosic ethanol is important. It is focused on forest residues, agricultural residues such as corn stover, and on urban residues, which are the residues from municipal solid waste that cannot be recycled. Even with appropriate sorting, there is a limit to what you can recycle.
While we consider cellulosic ethanol as a sector or subsector of the entire ethanol industry, we think these three types of feedstocks will be present in the production of ethanol. You might ask what the technologies are for this. Are they ready? Are they close to ready? Cellulosic ethanol can be produced in two ways. Either you go into the production of sugars and fermentation, which is analogous to the grain ethanol, or you use all the carbon by gasification of the feedstock, producing a uniform gas. This gas is converted by catalytic synthesis into ethanol, by the way. We can also convert it into diesel, if we so wish.
Both routes are appropriate, and both routes are being investigated. Certainly the gasification route is something that is proven, because ethanol and hydrocarbons have been produced in South Africa for over one generation, using coal as raw material and gasification as the technology to convert this coal into a uniform SNG gas.
What we see happening—and I think the federal system has to understand it—is that the options for ethanol are grain and cellulosic. For the cellulosic, the most advanced systems are those that are looking into gasification, which I think can be implemented today. Certainly in the United States and Canada, we have companies that are moving in this direction.
So I'm looking very optimistically to the next few years, because I think we will be able--not necessarily by 2010 but certainly by 2012--to produce whatever is necessary to meet this 5% mandate at a cost that begins to make sense. The cellulosic ethanol produced by gasification will have a cost target that is very similar to today's ethanol from grain. Cellulosic ethanol produced by hydrolysis and fermentation may be a little more expensive, because they use more expensive raw materials than the first one does.
So I think we are committed to this. I see the market, and not only the technology market but the financial market. I think the bills that the federal government is ready to pass will be essential, will be good, and will be appropriate to move Canada a step forward into this international course for biofuels, and I think we are very well positioned to be in the driver's seat, as you say in the English language.
I do not know whether you have any questions to ask. That is the end of my remarks. I may have used less time than expected or than you would have wished, so I will be pleased to answer your questions.
Today, the grain ethanol industry is an industry without risk. There is corn. We know exactly what to do in order to make sugar, to ferment it and to get proteins. This industry has allowed the ethanol sector to develop in North America.
In Quebec, for various reasons, we decided to try and show that we could use two other means of making ethanol, as well as making the corn ethanol. I am involved, both as an academic but also outside of the university, in both of the projects you have mentioned.
One of these technologies uses essentially used wood, such as wood from demolitions or construction, or even wood from the forest. We process this wood and make it into gas which we then make into ethanol using what are called catalytic techniques. This technology, as I was explaining earlier on, already exists in South Africa, and is coal-based. No company in the world is doing this with wood. We have a project in Westbury, in the Eastern Townships, that will prove that it is possible to do so with wood residue.
The plant is already partly built. The equipment has been ordered, and we should begin production this summer. There are risks. It is not without risk as in the case of corn, but it is a very low risk for a certain number of stages that are happening elsewhere, and that will prove the feasibility of success with our raw material in the Eastern Townships.
There is another project under way using better quality waste biomass. We would be making both ethanol and paper fibre. It is a project intended to give paper mills the opportunity to broaden their horizons at an historic moment when the pulp and paper industry is suffering.
We have tackled this from the point of view of the Canadian farmer. I think the consensus is there that in general it's supportive of supporting farmers.
Mr. Thomson, you mentioned that this could be an insurance against a drop in prices in the future. The first thing that comes to my mind is that apparently not a lot of farmers are buying into the co-ops now because they have all these prices in the food aspect. The minister was worried about that.
I'm wondering, if you don't have people coming on board, does that mean we have to import? That's the first thing.
The other thing I'd like to raise is a concern that I and many other people in Canada have. We mentioned that it's a critical time, and we have to do it right, and the financial markets are there. I understand all of that. At the same time, we're getting a message from Europe and the United States--and you mentioned OECD countries--that perhaps we should slow down a bit and see exactly which direction we're going in.
For example, on January 21, 2008, the United Kingdom called for a five-year moratorium on biofuels. The environmental audit committee concluded that:
The Government and EU should not have pursued targets to increase the use of biofuels in the absence of robust sustainability standards and mechanisms to prevent damaging land use change.
In February of this year, a dozen U.S. biofuel scientists are petitioning U.S. legislators to revise biofuel mandates. I'll quote the following for you:
The study said that after taking into account expected worldwide land-use changes, corn-based ethanol, instead of reducing greenhouse gases by 20 per cent, will increases it by 93 per cent compared to using gasoline over a 30-year period. Biofuels from switchgrass, if they replace croplands and other carbon-absorbing lands, would result in 50 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions, the researchers concluded.
They go on further to say:
We should be focusing on our use of biofuels from waste products...such as garbage, which would not result in changes in agricultural land use.... And you have to be careful how much you require. Use the right biofuels, but don't require too much too fast. Right now we're making almost exclusively the wrong biofuels.
So I think maybe the debate should be centred around the right versus the wrong. As someone observing this, I see that there's a lot of potential to use the right biofuels. We've talked about that with the biomass from waste. We've talked about that with especially the two types of research going on with regard to the biomass residue, the bois usagé.
I'd like to have some comments on that. I'll stop here, but overshadowing this whole debate we have food, and food versus fuel.
That is an elegant summary of the challenges we face.
I have three points. On your reference to the European Commission's biofuels directive that was released in January, we studied that closely and we studied it quickly. It has obviously substantial implications for Canadian biodiesel, in the case of our industry, to the extent that a fair bit of biodiesel and biodiesel feedstocks, namely canola, are shipped from Canada to Europe right now. The Europeans were really targeting a very specific set of criteria they would consider to be unsustainable. They would target palm from recently deforested areas and places of high biodiversity. They would target soybean that was grown in Brazil or Argentina from lands that really are grassland and are fallow and would be taken into production, hence you would lose the carbon sinks in those.
I think you need to look very carefully. I concur with you. I don't think very many people in this industry got into it to see the result of their work be a destruction of habitat. Canadian-produced feedstocks on the biodiesel side will more than match the criteria the EU is setting up. We will not be taking grassland under cultivation to expend that. If you look at the Canola Council of Canada's website and information they put out, there are advances in agronomy, in yield science, in crop science, that will be able to deliver the increase in oil that's required for a biodiesel mandate. We produce 9 million to 10 million tonnes of oilseed, of canola, a year and we're going to be requiring about 900,000 tonnes, about 10% of that, to do the kind of crop we need for the renewable fuel standard.
We really do need to consider Canada. I am aware of this all the time. We get the broad international signals about going slowly on biofuels and we broadbrush Canada. We would be bringing about a very unfortunate situation if we were not to consider what Canada has. Canada's crops will favour very well under international sustainability criteria. We know that from participating in it.
I have one last comment on the topic. As I sit beside this high-definition television with its flat-screen panel, I don't think we said 20 years ago we were going to hold on cathode ray tubes because something better is down the road. Everybody who has studied the adoption of new technologies or, in the case of new biofuels, new fuels has said you have to have an industry on whose shoulders to stand. If we hold off on the first generation, it will deter the adoption of the really smart biofuels that we all agree are not going to compete with food and won't compromise agricultural areas, as an example.
There are two levels. One is technology and one is feedstock. There are different types of technologies that it can employ. One is a lipid, which is an oil or a fat, and then there is a more advanced type of technology by which it can take a cellulosic material or a bio-oil that can be made from a broader range of cellulosic carbohydrate materials.
Then on feedstocks—and I can talk specifically about what's going on in Canada right now—we have rendered fats, so recycled greases from restaurants, and we have tallow from rendering plants and packing plants. Those form about 200 million litres of supply right now, and the balance of maybe 1.3 million litres, going out to 2015, would come from oils.
Of those oils, right now vegetable oils, canola, would be it, but people are doing research on camelina sativa, which is more drought resistant. It requires less pesticide, less nitrogen. It has yields that are comparable to canola if grown well.
People are looking also at different kinds of oilseeds. They're looking at micro-algae as a source that would not compete for arable land as a lipid feedstock. There's mustard seed, again, and there's another one that's a relative of canola seed.
Some of them are closer than others, but it all comes down to the economics. Your colleague was asking about the economics of a production plant. Well, if you have expensive feedstocks, they become the majority cost of production, and the focus becomes on feedstock.
So we see a great deal of potential coming out of future research. But you don't jump to those future feedstocks. You have to have a base of industry in which to test them, to support them, to build them.
Then there's a whole other conversation about future technologies and renewable diesel. In Canada, in the British Columbia government, in the federal government, the support is for renewable diesel. It doesn't pick winners or losers. It simply says, we want to have it be renewable; you pick the technology and you find the feedstock that is most suitable.
Good afternoon. My name is Camil Lagacé and I am the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Conseil québécois du biodiésel.
First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting us here today to comment on Bill .
Generally speaking, we support the proposed amendments to the act. We support the overarching principle. In that regard, we are not here to challenge the exercise that is underway. However, we would like to make a few points that, in our opinion, could be beneficial when the time comes to provide guidance for the actions that will come from making these changes to the act.
As far as establishing a minimum average biofuel content, it is not enough to create a biofuel market that is real, that can quickly and easily be integrated into the existing distribution infrastructure of petroleum products and that will readily convince users to choose biofuels.
In the case of biodiesel, the proposal for minimum average content is contingent on its being proven feasible. This being the case, it is important that this be demonstrated as quickly as possible, for every segment of the market in which biofuels might be used, whether it be in the transport sector, for roads, and for other applications such as rail, shipping, agriculture and heating. Moreover, this demonstration must be made with the participation of a greater number of partners representing various potential users. Current conditions and regional differences must also be taken into account.
The use of petroleum products and the logistics regarding their distribution vary considerably from region to region in Canada. As far as introducing a national biofuels strategy is concerned, such a uniform approach could run into problems at the regional level that would slow down deployment. Market conditions must be promoted that would truly contribute to the sustainable development of the biofuels industry or the renewable fuels industry, that is to say that rules must be put into effect that will allow the Canadian industry to compete with products from elsewhere.
I will give you an example. Currently, the mechanisms in place in the United States ensure that all of the Canadian biodiesel production goes through that country, in order to take advantage of tax incentives, such as the blender's credit, which allows those making blends to bring a subsidized product to market, which is therefore cheaper and more attractive to the customer. Parameters must be defined for the development of biofuels production subsidiaries between the first, second and third generations using quotas for suppliers and feedstock, as the Americans are currently doing, and as are some European countries including England, France and the European Union.
I will give you an example. We want to implement regulations in Canada. If we are discussing corn ethanol versus cellulosic ethanol, it must be decided which regulations will deal with the biofuel production subsidiaries. In the case of biodiesel, it will be a question of determining what proportion of the biofuel will be produced from dedicated crops, on the one hand, and residual feedstock on the other.
As far as non-compliant products are concerned, it is critical that within the framework of the implementation of biofuels regulations, we ensure that only products that meet quality standards will be used, and not product substitutes that do not meet any standard.
I will now address the issue of aid programs for biofuels, whether they are aimed at developing markets or creating demand. In the United States, biofuel plants are currently working at only 40% capacity because they are having difficulty getting a foothold in the distribution system and connecting with users. In this context, the Conseil québécois du biodiésel wants to organize a project called BioRoute-BioHighway next spring in the Quebec-Windsor corridor. The objective is to actively work on creating a market for biodiesel by connecting users to producers and to biodiesel distributors in Quebec and in Ontario. We are running into obstacles in terms of funding the project because it does not fit into programs set up by the federal government under regulations intended to impose a minimum average content for biodiesel by 2012.
In other words, we like the idea of the project, which closes the production and product-use loop, except that there is no program to help make this a reality. Today, several departments believe that imposing a minimum content will be sufficient to automatically create demand.
Following a study on the distribution of biodiesel in Canada, it will be important to adapt in an intensive way the biodiesel distribution network throughout the industry. To achieve this, we will need different types of support. The U.S. Biodiesel Blender Federal Excise Tax Credit is an eloquent example. It combines products, but it also benefits from accelerated depreciation to help absorb the costs to adapt infrastructure.
The two last points deal with regional development and the production of biofuels. Though seemingly interesting at first glance, small-scale production of biofuels with a production capacity of less than 5 million litres per year is risky, because production plants may not be viable. This is partly due to the cost of quality assurance, as well as the minimum amount of biofuel which the distributors of oil products would want to purchase. A smaller production plant will not necessarily be profitable in the long term.
Lastly, with regard to the providers of raw materials, particularly in regions where volumes are generally smaller, such as canola production in Quebec, we should not rush any decision to invest in the production of biodiesel because it is a hot issue or because it can benefit from government support, especially if we are talking about small-scale production. It would be much wiser to wait and consider the use of this biomass in combination with other available biomasses in the region which could potentially be processed into value-added materials at the biorefinery.
Dear committee members, you have invited me today to speak to Bill C-33. As a young researcher, I believe I represent the new generation of scientists and professionals, particularly those working in the vast areas of the environment and biotechnology.
First, I noted that under Bill C-33, there will be new regulations on biofuel production; these regulations have not yet been drafted or passed. If the bill encourages the Canadian production of biofuels from green biomass rather than from other sources, there might be serious environmental and socio-economic repercussions, the possibility of which have already been raised by the scientific community, or played down by certain governments, but which strike fear in the heart of environmentalists. Here then are my positions with regard to your bill.
First, the production of biofuels calls for the use of tons of biomass, and one can easily justify using abundant and diversified raw materials such as waste materials. Bill C-33 should be presented to Canadians as encouraging the use of waste materials, and not of green biomass.
Second, the production of biofuels must not supersede the production of other bioproducts. Bill C-33 is currently being presented as supporting the production of biofuel, but what about other bioproducts for which there are potential and growing markets? Does the future of producers only lie with biofuels, or with a greater diversification of agricultural bioproducts?
Third, Bill C-33 is being presented to Canadians as a solution for agricultural producers looking for new markets. However, in my view, the bill is also a solution for the diversification of bioproducts for other industries, and even for municipalities, which have at their disposal a vast variety of waste materials which can be bioprocessed with or without being treated first.
As for my first position, many of us strongly believe that the production of biofuels and other bioproducts must be based, whenever possible, on waste, pretreated or non pretreated biomass which is available locally. Each region, municipality, town or village generates its own diversified waste, such as straw, wood residue, used oils, subproducts or agrifood waste waters. All these waste materials could be potentially biotransformed into biofuels and other bioproducts, including even enzyme cocktails, for instance, which can be used to pretreat lignocellulosic materials to biotransform them.
By making the right technological choices, you can considerably reduce your production costs and the price of bioproducts. You can even save on the treatment and management of waste by using it in value added production. The combination of waste and/or local residues, and the application of mechanical, physical-chemical or enzymatic pretreatments are two great examples of technological choices which widen the scope of possibilities for bioprocessing and increase production performance.
It is even possible to use the scrubbing sludge of waste water. Waste water treatment plans generate a fantastic raw material which the public and some governments still perceive as waste because of its origin and smell. The nutritional potential of sludge is under estimated, but it can support the growth of industrial microorganisms, and the formation of these microbioproducts has potential commercial applications. Scientific research has also shown that it is cost effective to produce biopesticides and enzymes, and eventually bioplastics. The production of biofuels, or of enzymes for the production of biofuels, certainly holds a lot of potential.
As for my second position, I believe that the Canadian government wants Bill C-33 to help agricultural producers. Indeed, the bill in part addresses the need to diversify agricultural bioproducts in Canada. But it is important that future regulations, and any investment made under Bill C-33, not draw our attention away from the production of other bioproducts, such as microbial enzymes and biochemical products for which there are potentials and promising markets. There are so many niches which can be developed, especially giving the diversity of fermentable residues which can be transformed into economic raw materials.
As for my third position, Bill C-33 is presented as a solution to agricultural producers looking for new markets. However, Bill C-33 should also be presented as a solution for every producer of waste wanting to transform it into bioproducts and to benefit from this process. Future regulations and investments made under Bill C-33 will also have to apply to the forest industry, the agrifood industry, and even to municipalities. In my opinion, it is important to encourage the production of first, second or third generation biofuels which are made entirely from agricultural, forest or municipal residues, or even based on materials which are not grown from the soil.
I would like to underscore the fact that Bill reflects the government's willingness to create biorefineries, and that plants to produce biofuels, bioenergy and other biochemical products would be located in a rural environment. However, I think that we should go further than to simply build biorefineries; we should also build eco-refineries, which would be located in different regions and which would meet the particular needs in biofuels and other bioproducts of that region, based on the availability of waste materials.
Eco-refineries are in fact the logical extension of biorefineries and eco-parks. We will be able to build eco-refineries if we decide to diversify the production of waste-generated bioproducts. Farmers, beef, pork and chicken producers, various industries, recycling centres, municipal dumps and water treatment stations could foster bioproduction in their respective regions. Manufactured bioproducts, such as biofuels, should ideally meet the needs of citizens, farmers, and whatever industries are located in the region. Each town or village could manufacture and distribute to its citizens and to local industries a variety of cheap ecological bioproducts. These eco-refineries would be comprised of various “value added” subsidiaries, which would attract biotech companies to their respective areas and create high-tech jobs.
If you wish, I can provide you with the scientific literature to support what I am saying. I have a few concrete examples. In Quebec, the town of Victoriaville is currently doing a feasibility study on the implementation of a pretreatment and bioprocessing process of sludge into commercial bioproducts. You can also take a look at what my company, EcoNovo, is doing. Its mission is to turn waste into value-added production, and, in particular, to diversify the products we produce. In fact, my company did the feasibility study for the town of Victoriaville.
Lastly, there is the Institut national de la recherche scientifique, which is based in Quebec City, and which has received a grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Government of Quebec to build the very first research and development laboratory in the area of bioconversion of urban, industrial and agricultural waste into value-added products. This is a research platform which will provide Canadian researchers and business startups state-of-the-art equipment to pre-commercialize bioconversion technologies.
In conclusion, I believe that Bill will promote the production of biofuels generated from waste and the enzyme cocktails which are necessary for the pretreatment process, while also maintaining the main objective, which is to diversify the bioproducts generated by all industries—recycling centres, municipal dumps and waste water treatment plants—across Canada. We have access to a vast variety of waste, the advantages of which are still being counted. That is why we must build bio-refineries and eco-refineries in Canada to add value to waste materials.
I work in Ottawa as the coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network. The network is a collaborative of 16 organizations across Canada, including international development organizations like InterPares and USC, farm associations and grassroots coalitions like the Society for a GE Free B.C., and the P.E.I. Coalition for a GMO-Free Province.
Our network is a testimony to the ongoing concerns of Canadians about the introduction of genetically engineered crops and foods. Our network is also highly concerned about the livelihoods of farmers in Canada. We want to make sure that consumer choices and government regulations support the ability of farmers to see a return on their investments and labour.
We are also, as are you, deeply concerned about finding a way to stop dangerous climate change. For example, we know that climate change already puts farmers at risk and threatens farmers' yields.
Finally, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network is concerned about the welfare of farmers in other countries, particularly those small-scale farmers in the global south. We're also concerned about the impact of rising food prices on global hunger and malnutrition.
So it is that we come to the issue of biofuels. The same debate as we're having here this evening is currently happening in countries the world over. In the rush to see the creation of a biofuels industry, many of the true consequences have not been anticipated, and we're only now beginning to understand how dramatic some of these are.
Mandating the use of biofuels opens the possibility that we may be committing in the long term to support feedstocks and technologies that are not carbon neutral, but will in fact increase greenhouse gas emissions. A major problem is that in the biofuels equation agriculture itself is a major contributor to greenhouse gases. The hope was that biofuels could be a win-win scenario for farmers and for the climate. Unfortunately, this mandate could in fact be a lose-lose investment, one that will dramatically change land use across the globe and jeopardize the biodiversity that we in fact need to face climate change.
In the United States and Europe, civil society organizations are calling for a moratorium on incentives for agrifuels-- biofuels--including a suspension of all targets. In Quebec, we understand there is a suspension to the construction of new corn ethanol plants. The U.K. government announced last week that its Renewable Fuels Agency will study the so-called indirect effects of biofuels, which are a grave concern for countries that will rely on importing biofuels from developing countries. These effects include human rights concerns, labour rights abuses on plantations, and the displacement of indigenous peoples and farmers from their land. For example, there are already documented cases of forceable removal in Colombia for oil palm plantations; destruction of forests, including critical habitat; increased pesticide use; and overuse of water. These concerns are also our concerns.
We're greatly concerned that government regulation to make biofuel content in fuels mandatory in Canada will have a number of immediate, but also long-term, effects and unintended consequences. A priority for the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network is our concern that biofuels will increase the acreage of genetically engineered crops. We're also concerned that the biofuels rush will be used to push open the door to new genetically engineered crops, including genetically engineered wheat and genetically engineered trees.
Increased acreage of genetically engineered canola, corn, soy, and now even possibly genetically engineered sugar beet will increase the contamination risk to organic and non-GE crops, as well as other environmental risks. Serious consequences for Canadian farmers have already been seen. For example, farmers have given up growing canola organically, except in very isolated geographical locations.
We're also concerned that the rush to establish a biofuels industry will be used to push through the introduction of genetically engineered wheat, despite the fact that Canadian consumers and our export markets have already rejected this product outright. And we do see that the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is preparing the way for faster approvals of genetically engineered crops through proposals to change seed regulations, the seed program modernization.
Already corporate power in the seed sector will only grow stronger as crops are dedicated for biofuel production. This corporate concentration will, as always, translate into higher input prices for farmers and less choice in the marketplace.
There is a new case that illustrates very clearly the way in which biofuels are being used to open up markets to otherwise unattractive or irrelevant genetically engineered crops. In Prince Edward Island there's a company seeking provincial government subsidies to set up a biofuels plant that would rely on sugar beet, and in this case the biofuels plant is expected to be fuelled by Monsanto's new genetically engineered sugar beet--entirely by this sugar beet.
Finally, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network is extremely concerned about false promises for second- and third-generation biofuels that we see are propelling the industry forward. Like the unfulfilled promises for genetically engineered crops, the launch of government supports for the biofuels industry is predicated on faith and assumptions that new genetic engineering and synthetic biology technologies can make up for current shortcomings in feedstocks and the technologies to process them.
What we see is a pie-in-the-sky picture for a future that relies on technological fixes that do not yet exist. This is not a sound basis for moving ahead with expensive policy. These justifications are, we believe, dangerous because they rely on a promise that is unlikely to ever come to fruition. Instead, and more importantly, this reliance may actually lead to the release of genetically engineered crops and trees despite their extreme dangers.
This false and dangerous promise for the next generation, whatever generation that is, is why we now see a massive investment in the United States to genetically engineer poplar trees for cellulosic ethanol. In the U.S., universities and corporations and the United States Department of Energy are investing millions to genetically engineer poplar for biomass. Field tests in the United States of genetically engineered poplar, in particular, already post a clear and urgent threat to Canada's precious forest ecosystems.
There are already field tests in the United States of fast-growing trees genetically engineered to be low in lignin. These are engineered expressly to make the production of cellulosic ethanol cheaper and more efficient. Lignin is an important structural polymer. It's what holds the tree up. Lignin is significant in defending the tree from insects and disease. So while these genetically engineered trees may make processing wood for ethanol cheaper and easier, the environmental impacts of such a trait spreading through forests could be severe and would be irreversible.
The Canadian Forest Service is also conducting field tests of genetically engineered trees in Quebec. These Canadian government tests may feed directly into this project of genetically engineered trees for ethanol and they again pose immediately contamination threats.
Just last week a global protest of agrifuels, or biofuels, and genetically engineered trees was launched at a meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network stands with these communities, and we hope that the desperate need to stop dangerous climate change does not translate into a dramatic misstep that would not only fail to stop climate change but would actually worsen various environmental problems, especially by opening the door to dangerous technologies, a door that should remain shut.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association welcomes this opportunity to appear before you all today.
I'm a director of the association, and I farm near Red Deer, Alberta. I also sit on the board of directors of the Alberta Canola Producers Commission, and I recently completed a term in the Canadian Canola Growers Association. However, my views here today will be primarily from the wheat growers' perspective.
Joining me today is Blair Rutter, our executive director from Winnipeg.
The Western Canadian Wheat Growers are a prairie-wide voluntary farm organization. For 38 years we've been advocating forward-looking farm policies to improve the profitability and sustainability of our farms. Our board of directors consists of 12 farmers who have a passion for agriculture and the determination to make farming more profitable. It is our optimism about the future of our industry that keeps us energized.
Grain prices are currently strong in western Canada, so that's helping to fuel our optimism. We know, however, that good grain prices can be fleeting, so that's why we're always seeking policy solutions that will help make farming more profitable on a long-term basis. We see biofuels as an excellent opportunity in helping us to achieve that goal.
makes provision for regulations that would require gasoline to contain a 5% average renewable content by 2010 and diesel and heating oil to contain 2% average renewable content by 2012. The wheat growers support this legislation and urge committee members to give it their full support as well.
Currently, there are five commercial ethanol plants in operation in western Canada and two more that will be opening soon this year. Combined capacity of these plants will be 500 million litres, which would, in total, consume about 1.4 million tonnes of wheat, or approximately 7% of the average wheat production in western Canada. Of course, these wouldn't use wheat exclusively; corn and other cereal grains would be part of that as well.
While ethanol has been produced on the Prairies for more than 25 years, we really are in the infancy stages of a large-scale biofuels industry in western Canada, so it's difficult to predict the full impact. In our view, biofuels and bioproducts represent a great opportunity to create a more sustainable future for our industry. Over the next few minutes, I'll talk to you more about the value of biofuels to prairie grain farmers.
First of all, increased ethanol production will help reduce our dependency on foreign grain markets. There are always a number of risks when you're exporting grain offshore. We're vulnerable to tariff and trade barriers, labour disputes, railway service disruptions, and high ocean freight rates. In the past year, the prairie grain business has been disrupted by two railway strikes and a trucker walkout at the Vancouver port. Having more grain processed domestically helps mitigate the impact of such disruptions.
Another benefit of the ethanol industry is that it would provide farmers with another local outlet for marketing their grain. As we've discovered in the canola, oats, and pulse sectors, local users of grain improve competition and help support local prices. The value of ethanol and biodiesel plants will be particularly evident when grain downgraded by weather or disease is able to be used for biofuel production.
Increased local processing also reduces our dependency on shipping grain by rail. In western Canada, our industry continues to be constrained by service and performance issues in the rail sector. In this regard, the wheat growers were very pleased to see transportation legislation, , passed by Parliament, and we thank all parties for their support of this legislation. It's my understanding that it has been passed by the Senate and is just awaiting royal assent.
The fact remains, however, that in western Canada the two main railways haul about 65% of the grain we produce. In our view, one way to improve rail service and increase competition in grain handling is to increase the amount of grain that is processed locally. Wheat varieties that are well suited to the ethanol industry often have agronomic advantages and so they represent a good rotational fit on many farms. Promoting a biofuel industry also creates more jobs and economic activity in rural areas. For those farmers who invest in these facilities, it also gives them an opportunity to capture a greater share of the value chain.
Finally, processing more of our grain locally helps ease the growing congestion on the rail lines and at ports. Rather than shipping our grain long distances, we think it makes more economic and environmental sense to process it closer to home.
In our view, there's no question biofuel plants provide tremendous value to grain farmers and communities across western Canada. We note that the renewable fuel standards contemplated in this legislation include provision for next-generation feedstocks, including straw and other biomass material. The wheat growers also support these forward-looking provisions.
We recognize and appreciate the concerns raised by the livestock sector with respect to the possible increase in feed grain prices resulting from the development of a biofuels industry. Many of our members also have livestock operations, so we take these concerns very seriously.
We note that studies in the U.S. have shown that livestock operations have flourished around ethanol plants. This is also the case in Canada. In fact, the oldest ethanol plant in western Canada—the Pound-Maker facility in Lanigan, Saskatchewan—is a fully integrated ethanol and feedlot operation. Other ethanol projects under development have a strong livestock component.
We think it's worth noting that many of the wheat varieties that are well suited for ethanol plants are much higher yielding than varieties used in the milling industries. Often, yield per acre is substantially higher than that of milling varieties. If the ethanol industry expands significantly in western Canada, we could see higher production of wheat, corn, and other feed grains. The resulting distiller dried grains, or DDGs, produced from these plants will provide the livestock industry with a relatively lower-cost feed grain supply.
Admittedly, we don't know what the full impact of biofuels on the livestock industry will be. However, we believe that it's too early to assume that the growth of the biofuel industry will be negative for the livestock sector.
The wheat growers want to see the development of a biofuels industry that is sustainable, without the need for mandates or subsidies of any kind. We recognize that some argue that the biofuel industry will not be viable without government intervention or support. We do not share this view. Of course, economic viability will ultimately depend on the price of the oil and the feedstocks. However, we believe that technological improvements in processing and in variety development will be such that biofuel production will one day be economical and sustainable without government intervention.
Regarding wheat variety development, our association would be remiss if we did not comment on this committee's work in recommending the removal of kernel visual distinguishability, known as KVD, as a criterion for the registration of new wheat in western Canada. The removal of this constraint will lead to the development of wheat varieties that have yield and starch profiles that are well suited to the ethanol industry. We applaud your committee and the federal government for your foresight in bringing about this policy change.
Bill will also help spur the development of new markets and new uses for our crops. For example, the fractionation of wheat, barley, and other grains offers significant opportunity for the development of healthier food, pharmaceuticals, and industrial products.
In summary, the wheat growers support Bill . The legislation will provide Canadian farmers with greater marketing opportunities and will lessen our dependence on export markets. The development of a biofuels industry will lead to greater investment in crop research and development and in processing technology. It also offers an excellent opportunity to create jobs and economic activity in many rural communities. We ask your committee to endorse this legislation and ensure that it is passed in the parliamentary session.
Thank you again for this opportunity to address you. We look forward to any questions you may have.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased to be here today to present a rather modest project to you. But in Victoriaville it's a big project, of which we have many.
I represent a training centre which teaches recycling. We teach young people who don't do well in the regular school system. Since 1990, we have trained between 50 and 70 students who cannot follow the regular curriculum. We decided to provide these kids with a different learning environment, namely one which operates in the area of recycling, and innovation in recycling; we also create sectors which did not exist before.
Victoriaville began recycling at the source thanks to Mr. Normand Maurice, now deceased, who believed that this was very a very important thing. He also believed that underprivileged youth with learning disabilities could play a meaningful role in society. So the training centre focused on the areas I just mentioned and began by creating modest research incubators. The first one dealt mainly with the identification of the papers and cartons we received. Then, with the help of the students, we started to involve the community and began the selective removal process in Victoriaville. The removal process is very efficient and respects the objectives of the waste materials management plan. We are currently engaged in a five-pronged removal process.
We have also begun to collect paint. The removal of paint began in Victoriaville. It is the training centre of which I am the director today which first became involved with filtration on a small scale and with a small budget. Our objective was to create something we could demonstrate to others. Our initial project was to demonstrate that unused paint could be recycled. We began to operate a plant which collects nearly 5 million kilos of paint and dangerous domestic waste every year. We upgrade the paint, which is then sold.
We have also worked with Peintures Récupérées du Québec, which already has the know-how and technical data to filter paint. We decided to create a pilot project involving the filtration of used vegetable oils. The cooking oils which we receive at the plant come from within a network of 550 municipalities which have set up a process to collect paint and dangerous household waste. These oils arrive in bulk and we developed a very dynamic and modest research protocol. Our objective was to show that if Germany could do it, we could too. So we bought a vehicle which we adapted. We worked with young students who were in an applied program to improve the vehicle's combustion logistics and the way the vehicle runs in very cold temperatures, given our winter climate. We also tried to find solutions while working in a very cold environment. The vehicle was tested with a dynamometer, and with the help of our students and chemists, we were able to verify our filtration product.
I can tell you today that Victoriaville has demonstrated that reused vegetable oil can, when correctly treated with a good filtration method, become a resource which performs better in terms of consumption and torque, as demonstrated by the dynamometer. I can provide you with the supporting statistics.
One year ago, I was in Tianjin, China, which is covered by smog 310 days a year. The use of pure vegetable oil eliminates odour and soot. This means that residues lose their fine particles.
We had questions about torque. When you use pure vegetable oil, it is 5.5% more effective, which represents a torque increase of 4%.
I like the idea that a network of 550 municipalities, which care about environmental recycling, recycle materials on an experimental basis. If the use of oil became widespread, it could be used to make some vehicles run more efficiently.
Our target is to develop vehicles which run on waste materials. We will create a vehicle prototype which runs on vegetable oil. Our objective is to exceed the threshold of 45% to 80%. Depending on the type of vehicle, we could use our vegetable oil at a threshold of over 80%. Our objective is not to commercialize this application, but rather to test it to see whether it is doable and mechanically possible. With the help of our mechanics, we are focusing on preventative maintenance to prevent mechanical breakdowns, and to reassure vehicle manufacturers. We then would be able to claim that our fuel can work at a threshold of 45%, 50% or 60%, and that it is very efficient and performs well.
My presentation was short, but I simply wanted to show you that getting young people, cities or municipalities involved, is the first step towards change. Studying a bill and amendments, as you are doing, can create a movement. The only way to provide security for our young people is to do little things on a daily basis and to give them hope that their lives have meaning. The more this is recognized by a community, the more it is fulfilling.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I wish I had 15 minutes to spend with each one of you. There's so much interesting information here.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you, Mr. Couture. What you' re doing is very important, and I particularly want to congratulate the young people for their efforts.
I'm going to ask my questions and I'll try to get some answers.
Lucy, probably the first will be addressed to you.
The latest research shows that we have to be careful. Studies are coming out from the European Union and the United States that maybe we have to be careful about what we're doing, especially in regard to food versus fuel. If I understand correctly, your major concern is greenhouse gases. Some scientists, whom I quoted earlier on today, are saying that instead of reducing greenhouse gases—this is corn-based ethanol—by 20%, it will actually increase it by 93%. So I'd like a comment on that.
The southern hemisphere.... You mentioned human rights, labour rights, displacement of farmers, destruction of forests. These are grave concerns. My question would be, if we had a biofuel policy that clearly stated that we will not import any feedstock for the biofuel industry, would you see it as a viable industry, because then we wouldn't have any direct push for the industry in the southern hemisphere?
And the other one, of course, is genetically modified contamination. I've read about it and I understand the concerns of wheat and the very possible contamination of fuels. I really wasn't aware what's happening with trees, but I see it as a really frightening possibility that actually our forests could be contaminated.
Then I'm going to move on to Mr. Bender.
In regard to rural development, we mentioned and you mentioned that this is a way of stimulating rural development, and yet we had Dr. Klein here from Alberta a couple of weeks ago who had some concerns. He said, “ However, there has been some tendency...among proponents of the biofuel industry to overstate the economic activity linked to biofuels. Research shows that only a small number of permanent jobs are created...”. His point was that maybe there are more jobs lost in other agricultural sectors than those actually directly created with biofuels.
Also I'd like a comment from you on the whole idea of GM wheat contamination. As we know, our wheat is valued throughout the world. If there's a small possibility that this export of high-food-quality wheat is contaminated, folks like you could be in trouble.
Would you feel comfortable with a bill that says no to any GM kind of feedstock for the biofuel industry?
I'll stop and get some answers.
I'm going to put my questions primarily to Ms. Sharratt.
I believe I heard you use the term “extremely dangerous” when you were referring to some of the genetics and some of the modifications that we find. You mentioned poplar. Now, I probably have planted more trees than everyone combined around this table, and I happen to know a little bit about that poplar you're talking about, or at least something similar to it.
Given that we're talking about fuel--we're not talking about ingesting this as a human food source--where can you come up with the term “extremely dangerous” when you refer to some of these things? You talk about genetically modified feedstocks. Where in the world is there an example, or can you give us an example, of someone who has been harmed? Are the emissions coming from genetically modified crops disposed of differently? There's very little you can find in agriculture today, whether it's oats, barley, wheat, or even watermelons--whatever it is--that isn't genetically modified. Your peaches, your raisins, your seedless grapes are all genetically modified.
Where are we coming up with this? We hear all these extreme statements being made, but no one in my 15 years here has ever supported the argument that a single person in the world has gotten sick from anything that has been genetically modified, unless of course there's an animal or a plant gene transferred from one to the other.
I understand we have to be careful, but how can you use terms like that? I think those are fear-mongering terms.
We have some housekeeping we need to take care of, a few motions we need to deal with.
Witnesses, I want to thank all of you for coming in and providing us with your comments. It will help us form our debate as we go forward on clause-by-clause tomorrow, later in the morning, on Bill C-33 after we hear from another group of witnesses first thing in the morning. You are free to leave the table.
Members, we have some work.
First of all, I want to remind all members that tomorrow at 12:30 the Young Farmers are having a luncheon for us. We only heard back from a couple of you. It's at 12:30 at 131 Queen Street, Room 853.
Also, tomorrow the committee starts at 9:30, not 9 o'clock.
Yes, it's at 12:30, 131 Queen Street. It's one of the new buildings that we've taken on. When we shut down La Promenade, a lot of the offices moved over there.