Agrofuel moratorium call - Urgent / The great biofuel fraud (31/7/2007)

1.Agrofuel moratorium call - URGENT
2.The great biofuel fraud

NOTE: 'Agrofuel' and 'biofuel' are the same thing by different names. For comprehensive treatment of this important topic see http://www.lobbywatch.org/archive2.asp?arcid=8072


1.Agrofuel moratorium call - URGENT

from Helena Paul, Econexus

Organisations and individuals around the world are extremely concerned about the way the European Union (EU) is rushing into agrofuels and the signals this sends to the rest of the world to race into agrofuel production.

The impacts are already serious worldwide. Millions of hectares are being designated for agrofuel production and export in Africa, Asia and South America. Indigenous peoples and local communities are being expelled from their land or forced into agrofuel production, forests and biodiversity are being destroyed.

In many places no impact assessment or consultations have been carried out; land is simply being handed over to European companies to exploit for export to Europe. In Africa, for example, land on which pastoralists depend and which only they can manage is being treated as unused or degraded land suitable for agrofuel production. In other countries, companies are taking over the most fertile, well watered land for agrofuels and driving food production to dry, marginal lands.

Agrofuels pose an unprecedented threat to regions that have hitherto not experienced the impact of industrial agriculture. Many of these are the final refuge of indigenous peoples, of precious biodiversity. The protection of such regions is also vital if we are to have any hope of preventing runaway climate change.

In the autumn, the EU will hope to finish the process of putting its agrofuel targets into law and drafting certification rules to reassure consumers and justify this unprecedented new push for agrofuel monocultures. We have to stop this process.

This is why we need more organisations and individuals to sign up to the call for an immediate moratorium on EU incentives for agrofuels, EU imports of agrofuels and EU agroenergy mopnocultures so that we can oppose the push more effectively. We will also need help in the Autumn!

Please think for a few moments about how to get more signatures.

To read the call and to sign up, please visit:


2.The great biofuel fraud
By F William Engdahl
Asia Times, August 1 2007

That bowl of Kellogg's cornflakes on the breakfast table or the portion of pasta or corn tortillas, cheese or meat on the dinner table is going to rise in price over the coming months as sure as the sun rises in the East. Welcome to the new world food-price shock, conveniently timed to accompany the current world oil-price shock.

Curiously, it's ominously similar in many respects to the early 1970s when prices for oil and food both exploded by several hundred percent in a matter of months. That mid-1970s price explosion led the late US president Richard Nixon to ask his old pal Arthur Burns, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, to find a way to alter the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data to take attention away from the rising prices.

The result then was the now-commonplace publication of the absurd "core inflation" CPI numbers - sans oil and food.

The late American satirist Mark Twain once quipped, "Buy land: They've stopped making it." Today we can say almost the same about corn, or all grains worldwide. The world is in the early months of the greatest sustained rise in prices for all major grains, including maize, wheat and rice, that we have seen in three decades. Those three crops constitute almost 90% of all grains cultivated in the world.

Washington's calculated, absurd plan

What's driving this extraordinary change? Here things get pretty interesting. The administration of US President George W Bush is making a major public relations push to convince the world it has turned into a "better steward of the environment". The problem is that many have fallen for the hype.

The center of Bush's program, announced in his January State of the Union address, is called "20 in 10", cutting US gasoline use 20% by 2010. The official reason is to "reduce dependency on imported oil", as well as cutting unwanted "greenhouse gas" emissions. That isn't the case, but it makes good PR. Repeat it often enough and maybe most people will believe it. Maybe they won't realize their taxpayer subsidies to grow ethanol corn instead of feed corn are also driving the price of their daily bread through the roof.

The heart of the plan is a huge, taxpayer-subsidized expansion of use of bio-ethanol for transport fuel. The president's plan requires production of 35 billion US gallons (about 133 billion liters) of ethanol a year by 2017. Congress has already mandated with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that corn ethanol for fuel must rise from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 7.5 billion in 2012.

To make certain it will happen, farmers and big agribusiness giants like ADM or David Rockefeller get generous taxpayer subsidies to grow corn for fuel instead of food. Currently ethanol producers get a subsidy in the US of 51 cents per gallon (13.5 cents per liter) of ethanol paid to the blender, usually an oil company that blends it with gasoline for sale.

As a result of the beautiful US government subsidies to produce bio-ethanol fuels and the new legislative mandate, the US refinery industry is investing big-time in building new special ethanol distilleries, similar to oil refineries, except they produce ethanol fuel. The number currently under construction exceeds the total number of oil refineries built in the US over the past 25 years. When they are finished in the next two to three years, the demand for corn and other grain to make ethanol for car fuel will double from present levels.

And not just US bio-ethanol. In March, Bush met with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to sign a bi

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