Are Biofuels A Crime Against Humanity?


That’s what Jean Ziegler thinks. He’s a professor at the University of Geneva and the Sorbonne over in Europe. And he’s the UN’s Special Big Shot on the Right to Food. His job is to screech when he sees human rights violations in the area of food production. He’s expected to figure out how to solve the problem if he can. And he’s not paid. I don’t know, maybe he gets great perks, or maybe he cares.

UN Watch, the watchdog organization created by the American Jewish Committee, doesn’t like him much. They call him a “certified apologist to dictators.” But I have to think any guy who says things like, “I vowed never again, not even by chance, to side with the hangmen.” and Every child who dies of hunger in today’s world has been murdered” is on my side in the war of the rich against the poor. So I take him seriously.

He says, if I understand him rightly, that the goals of biofuel production are fine – “more jobs, a cleaner environment and greater independence from the whims of the oil market”, but the benefits will come at a terrible price. He says, “the effect of transforming hundreds and hundreds of thousands of tons of maize, of wheat, of beans, of palm oil, into agricultural fuel is absolutely catastrophic for the hungry people.” He also said that the rise in demand for grain has led to the world price of wheat doubling in one year. The price of corn has quadrupled. The world’s poor don’t have money to buy at those prices.

Ziegler’s calling for a moratorium on biofuel production for five years to research ways to turn agricultural waste and arid land crops that are no good for food into biofuel. Until then – hey, sell your car! Why not? Lets get radical here.

You don’t like that idea? I don’t either. But what are we going to do? Are you really okay with your travel freedom being based on the death of even one little kid?

What if we gave up a little bit of that freedom for five years? We could revive gas rationing. It worked in World War II. We could still use our cars for shopping and errands we needed to do. Then maybe car pooling to work would finally take off. It’s time to think out of the box. I think we need to get radical here.

In Zieglers’ words, “It’s a crime against humanity to devote agricultural land to biofuel production…We have to stop this growing catastrophe: the massacre (by) hunger in the world.”

Photo credit: Plan 59

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