A piece on page B1 of yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reports that Tyson Foods and Syntroleum Corp are teaming up. No, they’re not figuring out how to feed fuel to chickens – they say they’ve figured out how to turn chicken fat into a new form of biodiesel. (Tyson announced a similar deal with energy firm ConocoPhillips a few months ago.)
From one angle, I suppose this is good – chicken fat is a renewable resource, of sorts, and biodiesel is a good thing, right? But I’m sort of conflicted: I don’t love the idea of Tyson using this business to shine up its reputation for raising animals in ways that might not be the most humane. I mean, what does this say about animal rights? That it’s okay to raise chickens in overcrowded pens with gobs of antibiotics as long as it allows us to drive our diesel trucks more cheaply? And what about the fact that Tyson HAS enough chicken fat leftover from its packaging processes to pump out a projected 75 million gallons of fat-based fuel annually – how much of that fat is due to how the chickens are bred and raised? What happened to skinny chickens?
Ooohh, this whole energy thing (she says with a wave of the hand) is a hard fight. What is the answer?