Feed hungry not car: Biofuel isn’t really helping

Photo: TheEcologist

There had been a serious setback in technologies to find alternatives of petrol and diesel to feed hundreds and thousands of vehicles. Failure of technological breakthrough in one hand and filthiness of petroleum on the other hand had led well-off nations to innovate biofuel. It was ironically presumed by the great minds in the world that biofuel would be environment friendly and eventually replace dirty fuel. Germany and US along with Brazil as well as G20 nations are especially encouraging biofuel through policies and subsidization. EU has set the target to use 9% transport fuel from biofuel by next 10 years or so. This euphoria centering promotion of biofuel has, indeed, gone wild undermining smallholder farmers and threatening food security. Communities in African continent are pushed on the edge by grabbing their lands for producing biofuel crops.

Famine in Africa is now breaking news, over one billion people do not have enough to eat, deluge has devoured Southeast Asia, bailout of banks so as nations, and all these gloom and doom happenings could further increase hunger. Well, even fifth grade students understand how biofuel reduces agricultural lands for food production, wipes out communities and destroys farmers’ life and livelihood.  Whats the point of investing biofuel is naive to question like that because it’s an innovation of great mind and policy priority to go for it even at the cost of couple of billion more hungry and famine in more continents.

Biofuel energy for transport in rich nations has initiated government backed land grabbing anarchy in Mozambique, Senegal, Kenya Tanzania and so on. And nothing could stop these ambitious nations from fueling biofuel agenda. G20 leaders’ summit in Cannes has trashed the findings of specialized agencies opposed by major biofuel producers. The key finding was, facilitating crops for biofuel caused soaring food price as well as volatility and situation will get worse. A clear recommendation was provided that these nations should not subsidize biofuel  and remove all provisions from national policies for such production and consumption.

Ironically, according to experts this fuel could end up emitting more carbon than fossil fuel. So, it’s not basically green fuel or low emission fuel. However, biofuel companies are invading innocent villages of least developed continents with a slogan on ‘sustainable clean energy’. 20,000 people faced forced eviction from their land in the coastal area of Kenya for plantation of this holy crop. It’s a questionable EU renewable energy policy that claims biofuel as ‘clean energy’ in the first place and then rewards companies to go ahead with such flawed understanding, allows taxpayers money to carry on eviction of thousands of poor farmers elsewhere in a miserable nation. Jatropha plantation replacing graveyard into crop field and destroying primary school on its way if necessary.

At such moments of famine and deluge much attention of G20 leaders should have been on how to step forward achieving food sovereignty or security or at least stop the causes of soaring food price. Unfortunately, similar to the 80’s old-fashioned structural adjustment  and market policies this anarchy of biofuel production is devouring poor valleys like a deluge.


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