Friday, January 25, 2008

When I first heard about biofuels- this was about 20, 30 years ago- I thought “My God the Americans have gone completely crazy! They are putting food in their gas tanks!" Back then though it was just a crazy idea. Now it is really happening. The results in just this one year have been devastating. Indonesian farmers have been evicted from their land so transnationals could plant palm oil. Meant not for cooking, but for cars. Indonesian rainforests until now protected for all the good reasons you must know about, are being cut down now to plant more palm oil. In Brazil land is being converted to sugar cane, also destined for gas tanks. In Cauca state, Colombia, 10,000 indigenous people have been forced off their land to plant more palm oil. In the U.S. corn crops are expanding to make ethanol, a gas substitute more environmentally destructive than real gas, but very profitable for agribusiness. One result of this is corn prices have got so high Mexicans have been priced out of the market. So no more tortillas for them.
The idea of feeding cars instead of people is even crazier now than when I first heard about it. And worse than that it is spelling impending doom for the world food supply, for all the hungry people in the Global South, for the rainforests, the Amazon, the earth itself.
Oil greed is the biggest single cause of all the environmental degradation our poor tortured planet has undergone the last hundred years. To now give over agricultural production to the oil industry is absolute madness. It must be stopped. Ten million people, mostly children under five, died of hunger last year. 24,000 every day. There will never be extra land on our planet, land not needed for people food that we can afford to feed to our cars. There will never be a time when it is sensible or moral or sane to feed cars instead of people.