27 October 2007

Biofuels "Crime Against Humanity"

Every five seconds a child under ten dies from hunger or disease related to malnutrition and there are 854 million hungry people in the world.

Last month I asked when we were going to begin getting a proper sense of perspective on questions surrounding biofuels, food security and the environment. At last, people appear to have taken notice:

Earlier this month, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler described current approaches to biofuels as "a total disaster for those who are starving."

Last week, in its October 2007 World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund voiced concern that the increasing global reliance on grain as a source of fuel could have serious implications for the world's poor.

Earlier this week, in the Parliamentary debate to establish the first fixed targets for biofuels, the Shadow Minister for Transport, Julian Brazier warned, "If biofuels are to play a successful part in the fight against climate change, it is absolutely vital that they come from sustainable sources. Without clear and binding rules on sustainability, this proposal could damage the environment not protect it. It would be madness if UK biofuel targets actively encouraged people to rip up the rainforest."

Now, the UN's Jean Ziegler has described the conversion of food crops to fuel as a "crime against humanity" and has called for a five-year moratorium on biofuels. He suggests the ban would allow scientists to develop ways to make biofuels from other crops without diverting land from food production, such as a pilot project in India using trees planted in arid areas unsuitable for food crops. He also criticised European governments for choosing a military response to those fleeing famine and chronic hunger from sub-Saharan Africa and wants a new human right to be created in favour of these "refugees from hunger."

Let us hope good sense will prevail over the economic interests of the climate change lobby.

2 comments:

Devon Lee said...

At least the Ugandan government has dropped plans to allow an Indian company to clear 17,500 acres of the 74,000-acre Mabira forest to grow sugar cane for biofuel production.

Perhaps the tide is beginning to turn... We can but hope.

Eric Bird said...

Surely nuclear energy is a far better solution than biofuels!