Call for an Immediate Moratorium on US Incentives for Agro fuel Americans now understand that climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases are a major threat to our survival. Unfortunately large corporations have convinced Congress to ignore the real roots of the crisis (reckless coal and petroleum consumption) and to advance the false solutions of corn, soy, or other agro fuels. More than a hundred U.S. based and international organizations, including the Organic Consumers Association, are calling for a moratorium on government subsidies for industrial-scale monoculture agro fuels. While billions of dollars in subsidies for corn, soy and palm oil-based agro fuels, like ethanol and biodiesel, certainly result in higher profits for corporate giants such as Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, and Monsanto, their overall contribution to reducing greenhouse gases is negligible. In addition millions of acres of carbon sequestering tropical rainforest and wetlands in the Amazon and Asia are being destroyed in order to make way for soy and palm oil plants. Government support for agro fuels in the U.S., basically subsidies for genetically engineered corn and soybeans, are already costing taxpayers billions of dollars.
These misguided funding priorities have preempted essential greenhouse gas reduction policies, such as energy conservation, solar and wind power, and mass transit. While the OCA supports the production of biofuels from recycled waste (such as used vegetable oil, manure or sewage) and biomass sustainably grown and harvested for the benefit of local communities, the current focus on agro fuels is a recipe for disaster. The first step to a clean energy future and a stable climate is a moratorium on agro fuels, as well as new coal plants. Learn more and sign the Agro fuel Moratorium Petition today at the “Food For Thought” booth near Good Foods’ produce.
This call responds to the rapid concentration of the agro fuel industry in the U.S., driven largely by U.S. and E.U. renewable fuels targets, and to the growing number of calls from the global south against the expansion of agro fuel monocultures. Agro fuels refer to large-scale industrial monoculture production of crops such as soy, oil palm, sugar cane, jatropha, canola etc. for fuels and do not include small scale, sustainably grown fuel crops that benefit local communities, do not employ genetically engineered (GE) varieties, and can be accurately referred to as “biofuels.”
Agro fuels cause deforestation and environmental damage
Industrial monoculture production has numerous negative impacts on the environment, climate and on people. These include soil depletion and erosion, contamination and depletion of waterways, increased use of nitrogen fertilizers and toxic agrichemicals and an increasing reliance on a small number of GE varieties at the expense of diverse and sustainable agriculture systems. Monocultures of soy and sugar cane in Latin America and palm oil in Indonesia and Malaysia have led to massive deforestation and the loss of invaluable biodiversity.
Agro fuels will worsen global warming
Agro fuels are promoted as a solution to global warming, but more accurate life-cycle assessments suggests that they increase carbon emissions by increasing deforestation and degradation of peat lands and soils, while also creating more nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizer use. Crop irrigation and refineries deplete already dwindling fresh water resources.
Agro fuels seriously threaten food and land rights of indigenous people and the rural poor.
Promoted as a benefit to the rural poor, agro fuels are instead causing the displacement, often violent, of indigenous people and the diversion of lands formerly used to produce food for local consumption into production of agro fuels for export to wealthy northern countries. Workers are subjected to poor conditions, chemical exposures, and other abuses.
Certification will not provide adequate protections
Certification systems cannot control macro-level impacts such as the displacement of other land uses, cannot be adequately monitored and implemented in many countries, have thus far failed to ensure full participation of affected communities, could conflict with WTO agreements, and cannot be designed and implemented fast enough to keep pace with current development.
The International Energy Agency estimates that over the next 23 years, the world could produce as much as 147 million tons of agro-fuel. This fuel will barely offset the yearly increase in global oil demand, now standing at 136 million tons a year, without offsetting any of the existing demand. Is this worth it?
Urgent and effective measures other than agro fuels are available