Later this summer residents in the Province of Ontario will be able to plug in their homes to a new source of electrical power: biogas derived from cow manure.
"The idea of turning cow waste into electricity, according to its boosters, which include the Ontario government, the source of $2.5-million in financing for the venture, sidesteps one of the biggest quandaries in agriculture today.
It's the question of whether it is good sense or folly to turn valuable human food, such as corn and soybeans, into renewable fuels, such as ethanol or diesel, to use for cars.
The rush to make ethanol from corn has more than doubled the price of the agricultural staple, and although it has also helped to curb petroleum use, it has prompted global worries about food-price inflation.
But in the case of manure, it is a material nearly no one wants; while farmers typically spread it on their land as a substitute for fertilizer, the activity is often a source of complaints from neighbours offended by its pungent smell, and worried about its potential to pollute groundwater."