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Biofuels Bio or business?

Biofuels Bio or business?


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By Arturo M. Lozza

We are facing the design of a new reproduction strategy by capitalism, which is taking control of food systems. The unprecedented alliance of multinational oil companies, biotech companies, auto multinationals, large grain merchants and some conservation institutions is taking place that are going to decide which are the great destinations of the rural landscapes of Latin America.


We are facing a formidable global campaign to accelerate the production of biofuels from soybeans, corn or sugar cane to replace petroleum derivatives. The justification is based on a stark reality: the pollution of the environment. And so, riding the crest of the environmental wave, the biggest polluters on the planet launch their new offensive. The European Union summit approved that by 2020 10% of total energy consumption comes from biofuels. The United States is inaugurating a distillery for vegetable fuels per week: 120 are already operating. And the same multinational companies that invented GMOs - called Monsanto, Nidera and Cargill -, in addition to the potentate George Soros and others, announce strong investments in distilleries and in creating new seeds. To complete the business round, George Bush met in March with the three largest automotive companies - General Motors, Ford and Chrysler - to "adapt their products to the new generation of biofuels."

Argentina got on the new wave. This February, Law 26,093 was regulated, creating a tax deduction and incentive regime for the production of biofuels.

The consequences have not been long in coming. In the last year the international price of corn more than doubled. The United States, the world's leading producer of grain, sells it to Mexico 150% more expensive. Therefore, the price of the tortilla, a staple food for Mexicans, rose sharply and sparked massive protests. For many, it was the first bell.

Lester Brown, director of the Earth Policy Institute and a former official for several US governments, warned: "The amount of cereal it takes to fill a 25-gallon tank with ethanol one time is enough to feed one person for a whole year." That's why -he added- "The competition for grains between the 800 million motorists and the 2 billion poorest people in the world can lead to popular riots."

Also in Argentina the high prices of corn are felt in the pockets of the consumer. The land became more expensive and, therefore, the costs of all crops will rise.

The controversy is open. Social movements raise voices of alert and there are not a few researchers with views very different from those raised by the oil companies now turned green fuel distillers. British journalist George Monbiot, for example, did calculations and found that "To only move our cars and buses with biodiesel it would be necessary to sow 25.9 million hectares. However, there are only 5.7 million hectares in the UK. If this were to happen throughout Europe, the consequences on the food supply they would be disastrous. "


Ricardo Mascheroni, a researcher at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral, also made calculations: "If today the world abandoned the burning of hydrocarbons and switched to biofuels, it would be necessary to plant a number of hectares equivalent to several planets". Engineer Miguel Baltanás, CONICET senior researcher, also pointed out that to incorporate biodiesel in a percentage of only 2%, "It would be necessary to use 50% of the world production of vegetable oils." From this we can infer - Marcheroni adds - that if the percentage were 4% of the total, we should use all the vegetable oils produced in the world. So, he wonders, what will we make the French fries with?

But what is at stake is much more than frying potatoes, it is a conception of things to come: business or food for all humanity? The truth is that the business of multinationals threatens to exterminate food territories. And by logical consequence, there will be more hunger and more environmental devastation. Furthermore, biofuels, as they are proposed, will not mitigate climate change: " The combustion of biodiesel - the engineer Baltanás points out - produces more nitrogen oxides, which in the atmosphere produce a greenhouse effect 24 times higher than that of carbon dioxide ".

The conclusion then reached by Mascheroni and others is the following: "Where are we going to produce food, if we will have to cover up the beds of the houses with soybeans, corn and other monocultures? We are facing another colonial proposal from multinationals that in addition to the soybeans, their oil or the biodiesel that is exported, they take away the water and nutrients from the soil and leave us pollution, desertification, the annihilation of biodiversity and the loss of quality of life. A great deal ".

Biological imperialism

Miguel Angel Altieri, a doctor in agroecology and professor at the University of Berkeley, California, considered one of the greatest in environmental research in relation to social movements, denounced what is behind the ‘project on biofuels. He pointed:

" Biofuels are an ecological and social tragedy. With its production, a very big problem of food sovereignty will be created, since there are thousands of hectares of soybeans, sugar cane and African palm that are going to be expanded, which will cause massive deforestation. This is already happening in Colombia and in the Amazon. It will also increase the scale of mechanized monoculture production, with high doses of fertilizers and specifically Atrazine, which is a very harmful herbicide with endocrine disruption.

The development of biofuels does not make any energy sense, since all the studies that have been done show that more oil is needed to make biofuel. For example, in the case of corn ethanol, 1.3 kilocalories of oil are needed to produce one kilocalorie of bioethanol.

We are facing the design of a new reproduction strategy by capitalism, which is taking control of food systems. The unprecedented alliance of multinational oil companies, biotech companies, auto multinationals, large grain merchants and some conservation institutions is taking place that are going to decide which are the great destinations of the rural landscapes of Latin America.

For the United States to produce all the ethanol it needs to replace its oil, it would have to cultivate six times its acreage. So it is clear that they are going to do it in Latin American countries and, in fact, they are already on the way. It is a biological imperialism. "www.ecoportal.net


Video: How to make White Petrol Fuel Ethanol at Home - Hindi (May 2022).


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