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May 01, 2008


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Rustin Wright

For those of you who haven't been watching the tide of biofuels-related misinformation, much of which I sincerely consider disinformation, here are sample excerpts from a press briefing from the United Nations. You can find the complete text here:


Here are the excerpts. (Emphases and bracketed comments are mine.)

----quote begins----

The creation of “pure fuels” or biofuels to protect the environment and reduce oil dependence was not a bad idea, but its negative impact on hunger would be catastrophic, Mr. Ziegler said.  [Not "could be", but "would be".] When tons of maize, wheat, beans and other food staples were converted to fuel, food prices rose and arable land was lost to food production.  Last year, the price of wheat doubled and of maize quadrupled. [No mention of worldwide droughts, massive grain blights, vastly increased demand for meat in the developing world, or any of the other far larger factors.]

He said that, currently, 31 of 53 African States had to import food. [Of course they did; their crops failed on a massive scale.]  As prices rose, the poorest countries could not pay, and the poorest people, generally living without access to subsistence farming, could not purchase more expensive foodstuffs.  The amount of corn that needed to be burned to make enough ethanol to fill a single car’s fuel tank could fill a child for an entire year.

Warning that converting arable land to pure fuel production was a crime against humanity, he called for a 5-year moratorium on such activity.  He offered the use of non-food agricultural products that could grow in soil unfit for food production as an alternative source of biofuels, citing a project in Rajasthan, India, where the Mercedes company was growing jatropha for biodiesel in arid land. {so we KNOW that he knows about other approaches.] Following a moratorium, such projects could be evaluated and new fuels produced.

In countries where people did not face a daily battle against hunger, the public was only aware of the environmental benefits of biofuels, he said.  In order for every human being on the planet to enjoy the right to food, however, it was essential to raise public awareness of the devastating effects conversion to biofuels would have on large segments of the global population, so that they might put pressure on their Governments to support the right to food.

----quote ends----

Note that even having conceded that biofuels can be made in ways that don't threaten crops, he then returns to talking as if they necessarily did.

Now, afaict, either the spokeman is changing his tune two or three times in the same statement or the writeup is fundamentally misrepresenting what he said. I think that it's the spokeman's fault, not the anonymous writer of the press release, given what I've seen coming out of the NGO world in general and the U.N. in specific recently.

Google the phrase "wheat blight" and see what you find. Ug99, Sunn insects, FSB, and on and on. Not to mention the bee die off or the many other ways that our flora are in crisis, especially the parts set up to agribusiness specs, where mile after mile of fertilizer and irrigation-maintained monoculture crops are the most vulnerable of all.

No, instead we are told that the food crisis is the fault of the use of biofuels. Who is paying for this disinformation campaign? I don't know. But it's mighty slick and brutally effective. And, to state the obvious, sabotaging the implementation of biofuels will do quite a bit to ensure that more people die in the coming years from things like crop failures.

Don't believe the hype.


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