Friday, December 07, 2007

Letter to the editor: bio-fuels vs food

Most of this comes from George Monbiot's recent article entitled "An Agricultural Crime Against Humanity".

Sir,

James Gleason repeats his usual points about climate change (Monday
December 3rd) but for a change, I find we something to agree with -
the impact of bio-fuels on food supplies for the poorest people in the
world.

The use of bio-fuel made from organic waste or grown on idle
agricultural land might have helped to reduce our use of oil but that
is not what is happening. Instead, land previously used to grow food
is being converted to grow fuel crops, in some countries, tropical
forests are being slashed and burned for the same purpose.

When you factor in the energy needed to farm and refine them with
current technologies, the environmental benefits of bio-fuels are
quite slim. Burning a forest to plant fuel crops eliminates the
benefit entirely and turns the whole thing into a net loss for the
environment.

Some foods can also be fuel crops, for example Swaziland is now making
fuel from casava while 40% of its people are facing food shortage.

Even the IMF is warning that demand for bio-fuel is pushing up food
prices for those who can least afford it.

Western governments must reevaluate their policies and targets for
bio-fuels and at the very least end subsidies,

Update:Published without edits I think.

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