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Saturday, August 02, 2008



Back in April, Jean Ziegler, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, had this to say:
"Hunger has not been down to fate for a long time -- just as (Karl) Marx thought. It is rather that a murder is behind every victim. This is silent mass murder."
And what else happened in April that we're just now learning about? The World Bank completed a report on the effect of biofuel production on world hunger, but kept it secret, some say out of fear of embarrassing George Bush and the U.S. The Guardian has recently revealed the key conclusion: Biofuels have forced global food prices up by 75% (the Bush Administration has placed the figure at 3%!). Some of the statistics behind the conclusion:
It argues that production of biofuels has distorted food markets in three main ways. First, it has diverted grain away from food for fuel, with over a third of US corn now used to produce ethanol and about half of vegetable oils in the EU going towards the production of biodiesel. Second, farmers have been encouraged to set land aside for biofuel production. Third, it has sparked financial speculation in grains, driving prices up higher.
A full year earlier, as I often remind people, Fidel Castro became the first world leader to speak out forcefully on what he perceived very early as a very serious problem. In that same article, Fidel talked about a factor which isn't even in that World Bank report - water (and thirst). The production of biofuels also sucks up water, which is increasingly in short supply, and is needed with a much higher priority for people to drink, rather than (indirectly) to power their cars.

"Biocide," the title of this post, is really a word meaning things which kill the environment. Here I'm using it in almost the opposite sense - the use of the environment (in this case, naturally growing crops) to kill people. If anyone has a better word, let us know in the comments.

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