Biofuels are involved in “a crime against humanity again”

Biofuels are involved in a crime against humanity again. Only this time it’s NOT growing biofuels that would be the crime. Confused? World opinion certainly is.
This time its Brazil’s president Lula who says that discarding biofuels would be the crime. Lula was speaking at a UN meeting in only days after Jean Zeigler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food had repeated that growing biofuels amounts to a crime against humanity, on Bayerische Rundfunk. (In German). He made the statement before in October last year, to the chagrin of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisaition and the global biofuels industry.
Lula said he is surprised by the backlash against biofuels:

“The surprise is all the stronger when you see that few of them (critics) mention the negative impact of the high price of oil on production costs, or that very few of them stand up against the negative impact of the subsidies and protectionism in the farm sector.”

Both comments were made in a month when riots in Haiti over food and fuel prices toppled the government at the weekend, and similar unrest tied to the problem erupting in Egypt, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Ethiopia, Madagascar, the Philippines and Indonesia in the past month.

The both sides have valid points. The easy thing to do is to blame the additional demand that biofuels are putting on the world’s food resources at the moment. Biofuels are high profile; they have good visibility and are in the news. Agricultural reform is difficult and counter intuitive, telling your country’s farmers that the government will reduce their protection from overseas producers is pretty much guaranteed to lose you votes in countries where voting happens. All countries want to run their agriculture at surplus to stop these riots happening. Distortions in agricultural trade can only make the situation worse.

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