CNN reported in mid-August that a recent Aeromexico flight from Mexico City to Madrid was significant, as it was the world's first transatlantic commercial flight propelled entirely using a new type of biofuel. Powered by a mixture of 30 percent biofuel from the jatropha plant, the engines propelled the plane along part of the same path that two domestic Interjet flights in Mexico had followed previously using the same type of fuel.
Already known for its oil production, Mexico could also become a leader in the future of biofuel production, thanks in part to its flats of arid, marginal land. Scientists around the world are busy developing fuels for the next generation that are derived from more sustainable sources that will not destroy land that is used for food production.
Growing in popularity in Mexico and other parts of the world, jatropha-based biofuels as well as fuels derived from the agave plant (from which tequila is made) are becoming viable alternatives to ethanol-based varieties, such as those made from corn and sugar. According to Gilberto Lopez Meyer, director of Airports and Auxiliary Services (ASA), these types of biofuels can adversely affect the price of staple foods in areas that depend on them for survival, raising a number of ethical concerns.
Mexico and 14 other countries have recently met with and joined the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is dedicated to creating sustainable alternative strategies for biofuels that will not adversely affect food production. “We returned to Mexico with a mission,” said Lopez in the CNN interview.
So far, Mexico's state of Chiapas has ramped up cultivation of jatropha and uses a biofuel mix made from its seeds on public buses and trucks. The initiative and a local biodiesel plant was was inaugurated by President Felipe Calderon in November of 2010.