(Picture: the raise in corn-tortillas price generated big protests in Mexico last January) Last Friday -in a day when 16 law initiatives were agreed-, the Mexican Congress approved the Bioenergetics Promotion and Development Law, which seeds to empower the use of ethanol from corn and sugar cane as biofuel. According to Jornada newspaper, just days before, the PRI party had ensured they would not agree to the law, but finally gave its votes and the law was approved with 243 votes in favor and 128 against. The document promises, according to the paper, "Better conditions for the Mexican fields", and sets the base to "promote and develop the use of biofuels as key elements for the Mexican energetic auto-sufficiency". It also considers establishing norms to support and advice corn and sugar cane producers in matters of infrastructure, conservation-and-transformation plants, and materials-and-equipments required for the sowing and cultivation of both products. The law comes just a few months after massive demonstrations took place in Mexico City in order to protest against the high price of Tortillas (kind of pancakes made from corn that constitute Mexican basic meals), caused by the raise in corn prices due to the US crescent demand for ethanol. Those who voted in favor of the law claimed the document "is trying to avoid that Mexico becomes a net petroleum importer in the millennium's third decade", stated BBC Mundo. Those who did against argued risks in corn production if the grain is used for ethanol.
Some deputies also qualified the law "suspicious". According to Vanguardia newspaper, it was said the law benefits big private enterprises and not small producers: "farmers are only getting a two percent participation", said Fausto Mendoza Maldonado, deputy for the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD). He also commented, according to El Porvenir that "the law responded more to US interests than Mexico's reality in matters of energy".
It was not determined how much ethanol Mexico can produce.
A law to promote ethanol production was also recently approved in Argentina.
Picture by El Pais