Expedito José de Sá Parente, 70, a Brazilian scientist who is considered the creator of biodiesel died this week in Fortaleza, capital of the northeastern state of Ceará. President Dilma Rousseff paid tribute to the researcher who developed the ‘green’ fuel from oilseeds.
Chemical engineer Sá Parente “created biodiesel which is a motive of pride for all Brazilians” recalled President Rousseff in an official release underlining that “the discovery patented by Brazil, had a wide international acknowledgement and has had a decisive influence in the country’s future.”
His dedication to bio-diesel “produced from the raw material developed by thousands of farmers’ families contributed significantly to reduce rural poverty,” added Ms Rousseff.
Brazil is the world’s second largest producer of biofuels behind the US and has 74 plants with an annual capacity of six million cubic meters. Production in 2010 was 2.4 million cubic meters involving 276.000 small farmers.
But the issue is also controversial. Biofuels help save on fossil fuels and cuts drastically the emission of greenhouse gases which affect world warming and climate change. There are also benefits for farmers who can supply the market with a high value produce.
However biodiesel extracted from oilseeds and other grains has also triggered criticism since it contributes indirectly to increase the price of food items worldwide, as more farmland is dedicated to the production of biofuels.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization has repeatedly warned that the production of biofuels puts pressure on food prices and could be responsible for as much as 60% of global increases.
Likewise biodiesel forces the expansion of the agriculture frontier which leads to deforestation and to exhaust soils.