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Economy

Food for fuel policy may result in deforestation

October 28, 2008 4:03pm
MANILA, Philippines - Using agrofuel to mitigate effects of climate change may bring about “massive losses of biodiversity, crop conversion, [and] deforestation brought about by industrial monoculture to help in policy formulation," an international group said.

As a result, the Southeast Asia Regional Initiative for Community Empowerment (SEARICE) urges a moratorium to agrofuel development in the light of the food and climate crises.

“Our government recklessly jumped into the global frenzy for agrofuel without clear parameter on its implications to the people’s growing demand for food. The government has to stop agrofuel expansion and instead launch intelligent debates about the subject," said Wilhelmina Pelegrina, SEARICE Executive Director.

In a press briefing held in Manila, Camilla Moreno hit the developed countries led by the United States in establishing a global emissions market for agrofuels and promoting global warming mitigation polices and trade in carbon credits based on agrofuel production.

Moreno is a lawyer and post-graduate degree holder in Development, Agriculture and Society from the Rural Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She is the author of the book "Food and Energy Sovereignty
Now: Brazilian Grassroots Position on Agroenergy" published by the Oakland Institute in February 2008.

“Thousands of hectares of traditional ecosystems, arable lands, and local livelihoods are being irreversibly affected by the expansion of agrofuel crops. Urban industrialized lives and ever-increasing energy demands are buying into the alleged greening of energy sector and paving the way for corporate takeover in natural resources, such as land, water, forests, biodiversity, oil and gas," explained Moreno.

Brazil is the global leader in ethanol exports, providing 70 percent of the world's supply in 2006.

According to Moreno, a drive through Brazil's countryside reveals the expansion of agribusiness, turning millions of hectares of formerly natural ecosystems, including the Cerrado (grasslands) and the Amazon, into one major monoculture.

Next: No effort made to expand land allotted for rice production

No effort made to expand land allotted for rice production


Meanwhile, several countries, including the Philippines are rapidly adopting legislation in compliance with a new global energy policy and in the light of international negotiations to address climate change in what will be a post-Kyoto protocol regime starting in 2012.

"However, neither the United States, the European Union, nor Japan, have the capacity to achieve their energy targets from their available agricultural land and crop production. If the US was to replace all its fuel with ethanol produced domestically, no land would be left for food production. This means that increasing the use of biofuels in Northern developed countries will depend on production in Southern, mostly tropical, agricultural areas like the Philippines," said Moreno.

Pelegrina said following the passage of the Biofuels Act, the Philippine government embarked on several investment projects, committing 1.2 million hectares to growing jatropha only and another one million hectares to grow sorghum, corn, and rice meant for biofuel production in the deals clinched with Spain and China.

"The government has made no effort to expand the area for rice production covering only four million hectares while it continues to allocate more resources for agrofuel production, particularly from its environment, agriculture and energy budget. The Biofuels Board of the Department of Agriculture alone has allotment of as much as P90 million in the 2008 budget.

Moreno said corporate interests have dictated the official discourse on climate change and biofuels while pinning the blame on transportation as the culprit for massive greenhouse gas emmissions.

"If global warming is a result of the industrial urban way of life and its ever-increasing demand for energy, promoting monoculture in agriculture and deepening the use of oil-intensive agroindustrial model to produce biofuels can never be a solution," said Moreno. - GMANews.TV