News: Oil, Biofuel, World Hunger and Crimes Against Humanity.

The world has 800 million people suffering from hunger. About 100-150 million of those receive regular food aid. Up to now, we could say "the world is producing enough food to feed everyone, so it is just a matter of re-dividing the food!". This might no longer be true.

Click for full resolutionIn less than 10 years, the price for a barrel of crude oil went from less than US$20 to almost US$100. Soaring fossil fuel prices, and the push for non-fossil fuel -either out of environmental concerns, or to create less dependency on foreign oil- had many governments stimulate farmers to switch from food crops to biofuel crops. As if they really had to stimulate farmers: the growing demand made biofuel a real profitable cash crop.
So, more farmers growing biofuel, means less farmers growing food crops. More land in use for biofuel, less land for food crops.
The dilemma shows even more drastically in developing countries. As an example, the government of Swaziland announced this week that it would be allocating thousands of hectares to a private company to cultivate cassava for biofuel. Swaziland is a country where about 40 percent of the country's one million people are facing acute food and water shortages. By placing the cassava project in drought-affected Lavumisa, in southeastern Shiselweni, where agriculture has been limping along for years, government is attracting criticism that it favours exports over food security at home. (read the full post).

While we are not at a stage where we declare a full fledged worldwide food shortage, we might not be far off. According to a report, co-written by the Organisation for Economic Development (OECD), even without demand for the "green" fuel, recent falls in output - due to drought and low stocks - will keep food prices high. The study predicts prices will rise by between 20% and 50% by 2016. (Full post). Good enough to have the Executive Director from the UN World Food Programme state: "(... food) price increases bring some benefits for farmers, but for the world’s most vulnerable, food is simply being priced our of their reach. And for WFP, it means that we
can procure far less food for the same amount of funding than just a few months ago.

The possible rampage caused by biofuels had Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on The Right to Food, state: "It is a crime against humanity to convert agriculturally productive soil into soil which produces foodstuffs that will be burned into [as] biofuel." He called for a five-year moratorium on biofuel production because the conversion of maize, wheat and sugar into fuels was driving up the prices of food, land and water. (Full post)

For more reading, have a look at: "An Agricultural Crime Against Humanity"

For updated humanitarian news, check out The Other World News
Crop picture courtesy SuperStock UK


Anonymous,  11 November, 2007 12:45  

I don't know, where everything is going in this world..

Anonymous,  03 December, 2007 09:34  

Fundamentally, I would agree with the main idea of the article that bio fuels as land use ( for profit) are contributing to hunger issues and are also starting to hurt third world forests.

However, a number of points are worth mentioning. Firstly, the global scale of subsidy effectively garnered by big oil, chemicals and the ever evil monsanto and ilk are a much bigger problem, mostly because that money could be better spent on clean technology and aid, but also because these industries CONTRIBUTE to not only poverty and political instability/ backwardness and usurp all manner of rights ect via outrageously invidious business practices and out right patent theft of what should belong to us all or often to the very poor peoples you mention directly.They also coolectively dictate policy not just in Nigeria, but in the western and wealthy countries too. If you actually beleive that they do not OWN our " democratic systems" you probably need to do more research on the facts.

As for the bio fuels issue; One need not be a maths scholar to figure out that ethanol or even biodiesel can not be produced in large enough quantities to meet all demands, true, and ethanol may even not be economic, let alone sustainable. However, bidiesel made from waste oil IS sustainable and makes a second use of a disposal issue product.

If we could actually get a logical sustainable energy policy out of more of our governments, this "biofuels vs feeding the poor"
would never be an issue.( for reasons above a BIG "if" no doubt.)

Firstly, if we had more use of BIOGAS ( not biofuels) worldwide, that would not only be accessable from all manner of wastes. (human and animal AND plant, and doable anywhere there are humans BTW)

BIOGAS reduces water pollution, and greenhouse gases. ( Methane is said to be 20 times more active in causing problem than co2.)

Biogas is low tech, not rocket science, and could be done in every village on the planet, and doesnt require a multibillion dollar industry. ( No doubt the MAIN reason that oil industry hates it with a passion. ( the proof? their complete silence on the technology and the manistream medias equally deafening silence..Yes, im serious...)

Biogas will run a diesel engine with little or no modification, it has been done in mountain villages in Nepal and the "backwoods" of China,to run vehicles and power systems,and cook stoves, in my country, Australia, where a 500m dollar pipe to pump the shit ( raw sewerage) out to sea is seen as a good idea, ( they did this is Sydney, for real) it is somehow so strange an idea that it has never even discussed in the media, let alone the Engineering departments, why do YOU think that is the case? Draw your own conclusions.

Biogas could easily be providing at least 10% of our TOTAL energy needs globally, yet it is engulfed in deafening silence.

We can never hope to feed the world in my not too humble opinion when big business, and the Chemical/OIL industry nazis decide what we can and can't do, know and think, not to mention choose to buy, in the affluent first world.

Yes, I believe in freedom, and also God, trouble is I've never seen either in the "flesh", which of them is the more "improbable", I wonder?

There is a massive array of other technology "pieces", which together, each could contribute to cleaner energy, not to mention greater justice and "equity" in the world.

Yet while our politicians spend billions on useless crap, they all tell us that clean technology ect is expensive and too hard. Its a utter lie, and that lie has been bought and paid for in full.

Ask the oil barrens how to make hydrogen, and you just might begin to beleive my " consiracy theory" rant just a little.

Their plan? take a fossil fuel, convert it to "feedstock"( presumably methanol or methane gas!) and then hydrogen.

Its bloody hilarious, but sadly, they are serious.

Hydrogen can be made by "cracking" it from water with electricity, therefore any source of electricity would do this, including solar power.

FYI cracking hydrogen is also not rocket science, though has major danger potential, true.( ...ehhm.. so does using gasoline.....)

Take a current and run it through water, hydrogen is produced.Thats it.

If that sounds like it doesn't need years of study and research to perfect, you are starting to get the point of what I'm saying.....

Basically your car battery makes hydrogen which is why you need to top up the water in it...

....Meanwhile if your engine had even small amounts of such gas running through it, it would be FAR more efficient and cheaper to run, since some of your fuel would be free and it is the most powerful, and clean fuel.

The oil and car companies know this, which is why they dont allow such things to be commercialised.
( many have been designed, some simple enough to DIY...)

Ok, still not convinced, try making drinking water, here( Australia) they are building desalinators left and right. They use fossil fuels and or expensive osmosis systems.

(The colective mining industry has heavy political hitting power in Australia.)

That job could be done by a simple use of solar energy first developed by a Scotish engineer in South America, in 1870 or so in remote Peru ad hoc because they needed water.( basically a solar still) Their basic little one acre plant made 3000 litres a day. Oh yes, very 'high tech', unfortunately it would run almost free of imputs, so I guess we wont see that one again any time soon.

The bulk of "crimes against humanity" start life at the oil companies door,( yes really, try cause and effect in most of the wars we have had in last hundred years...) when are we going to punish these assholes, they ARE the problem, not biofuels ect ect.

Likewise a world economy that rewards super wealthy multinationals with subsidies, while punishing the poorest nations, is the root of the problem.

Now ask yourself, whose 'idea' was that, and who benefits? Follow the money, you will see soon enough.

Calling me a cynic would be like calling Idi Amin a naughty boy, but am I wrong?....

.........Down with the Empire, ..use the force Luke....... lol

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