Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fearful: food for fuel fools

"The rush for biofuels could harm the world's poorest people" Oxfam
David Seaton's News Links
Using food to power automobiles is the cruelest idea that to have appeared in my lifetime (Hitler had recently left before I arrived).

If Monty Python had used the idea in a sketch 30 years ago, it would have been seen as another amusing example of their outré brand of surrealism. The subject is just begging for the genius of some modern, Jonathan Swift, to eviscerate it with a new "Modest Proposal".

As far as I know, I was the first columnist in Spain to write about it. I caught some flack last spring for occupying precious newspaper space with something so "off story", but when the price of bread went up by 50% in August, my back came in for some patting.

As a journalist the subject offers me endless material for articles. 'Food for Fuel' is even better than 'blood for oil' as a metaphor for describing the callous selfishness of today's global, consumer capitalism.

If you are itching to be an activist. If you are hunting around for a cause to get involved in, something with a "fulcrum effect", where your "widow's mite" could make a difference, fighting biofuel could be it. DS

Biofuel rush harmful, Oxfam warns - BBC News
Abstract: The rush for biofuels could harm the world's poorest people, Oxfam has said.(...) Oxfam warns poor farmers risk being forced off their land as industrial farmers cash in on the biofuel bonanza.(...) The rush by big companies and governments in Indonesia, Colombia, Brazil, Tanzania and Malaysia to win a slice of the "EU biofuel pie" threatens to force poor people from their land, it adds. This could destroy their livelihoods, lead to the exploitation of workers and hit food availability and prices, says the report. It is now demanding the EU reviews its biofuel policy and wants safeguards put in place to protect the poor. The European Commission says it is working to make sure its biofuel policy does not backfire. The BBC's environment analyst Roger Harrabin said there were also fears over the environmental cost of making fuel from crops like maize. Scientists have said it takes so much energy to produce some biofuels that it would be cleaner overall to burn petrol in our cars, he said.(...) "The EU proposals will exacerbate the problem. It is unacceptable that poor people in developing countries should bear the cost of questionable attempts to cut emissions in Europe. READ IT ALL

Uganda drops plan to clear forest for sugar cane plantation - Energy Current
Abstract: Uganda has dropped a project to clear part of the Mabira Forest Reserve to make way for a project to grow sugar cane for ethanol production after a study showed the forest could bring in more than 10 times revenue from eco-tourism than sugar cane production, according to a media report. The Ugandan government previously earmarked 17,500 acres of land from the forest reserve for multinational corporation Mehta Group to plant sugar cane for large-scale production of ethanol. But a study by Nature Uganda shows Uganda stands to lose US$316 million from eco-tourism in destroying the forest, while gaining less than US$20 million from sugar cane production. The Ugandan finance minister, Dr. Ezra Suruma, announced the U-turn at an official dinner. "We have committed ourselves to conserving Mabira Forest," he said. "There is other land in Uganda suitable for sugar cane growing." READ IT ALL

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