Agrofuels

Source: Forest People's Programme
The World Bank has agreed to suspend International Finance Corporation (IFC) funding of the oil palm sector pending the development of safeguards to ensure that lending doesn't cause social or environmental harm. September 2009. [see more]
Agrofuels (often called biofuels) are liquid fuels, notably biodiesel and bioethanol. So-called first generation agrofuels are derived from food crops such as cereals, soybean, rapeseed oil, sugar cane and palm oil. Second generation, which are currently under development, are aimed at using agricultural residues, trees (willow, eucalyptus) and straw, and may involve industrial technologies such as genetically modified microorganisms, crops and trees. Both generations set out to provide fuel on an industrial and large scale for electricity production and transportation. (Source: Friends of the Earth International)

The global oil crisis together with the need to look for cleaner sources of energy due to massive climate change impact has boosted the use and production of ‘biofuels’ as a viable alternative to fossil fuels. This has been translated in a huge demand for ‘biofuels’ from the rich world – especially the country members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), who account for 56% of the planet’s energy consumption – that is being produced in the South, especially Latin America and South Asia. (Source: Foodfirst)

Biofuels are now commonly referred to as agrofuels by the majority of NGOs, following the lead of non-governmental organisations and social movements in Latin America. They believe that the prefix bio, which comes from the Greek word for “life”, is entirely inappropriate since it gives a false idea of green energy. The term agrofuels expresses what they say is really happening: agribusiness producing fuel from plants to sustain a wasteful, destructive and unjust global economy. (Source: Grain)

Promoters - industry, government and scientific proponents of agrofuels - claim that they will serve as an alternative to peaking oil, mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing farmer incomes, and promoting rural development. ‘Biofuels’, derived from plant matter such as corn or oil palms, are seen as the greener option because they produce lower emissions of carbon dioxide.

On the other hand, environmental NGOs have increasingly warned that the rush to agrofuels encourages intensive, industrial agriculture, providing a new promotional vehicle for GM crops, and posing a serious threat to food sovereignty. Indeed, the destruction of rainforests, peatlands and other ecosystems to make way for agrofuel plantations may well accelerate global warming.

Agrofuel development has arrived on the global stage, the amount of money that is going to agrofuels is growing by the hour. The problem is the absence of a greater scientific consensus and the lack of effective legislation to protect farmers, workers, consumers, environment and the food supply. An idea that languished for decades has suddenly become the darling of politicians, big business, international financiers and the media.
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UPDATES
Friday, September 11 2009
World Bank agrees to suspend funding for palm oil sector
(Source: Forest People's Programme)
Wednesday, October 08 2008
Agrofuels and the right to food in Latin America
(Source: TNI)

An overview

OECD Round Table on Sustainable Development: Biofuels: Is the cure worse than the disease? (OECD)

Agrofuels: towards a reality check (TNI)

The agrofuels trap (Americas Program)

GRAIN's resource page on agrofuels (GRAIN)

Agrofuels resource page by the World Rainforest Movement (WRM)

The geopolitics of agrofuels (WRM)

Who benefits from agrofuels?

Fuelling exclusion? The biofuels boom and poor people's access to land (FAO)

Corporate power - Agrofuels and the expansion of agribusiness (Seedling/GRAIN)

Peak soil + peak oil = peak spoils (ETC Group)

Biofuels under (belated) scrutiny (Greenpeace International)

Destruction of forests and livelihoods

World Bank agrees to suspend funding for palm oil sector (Forest People's Programme)

The gender implications of biofuels production (AWID)

Voices from North and South against agrofuels (WRM)

Oil palm: from cosmetics to biodiesel colonization lives on (World Rainforest Movement)

GE trees, cellulosic ethanol & destruction of forest biological diversity (Global Justice Ecology Project)

Oil palm and other commercial tree plantations: impacts on indigenous peoples (Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples)

Asia

Booming EU demand for biofuels could kill Indonesian forests (Greenpeace)

Agrofuels in Asia: fuelling poverty, conflict, deforestation (Seedling/GRAIN)

Oil, agrofuels and climate change

Paving the way for agrofuels: the EU climate change calculations (TNI)

The true cost of agrofuels: food, forests and climate (Global Forest Coalition)

Peat CO2, assessment of CO2 emissions from drained peatlands in South East Asia (Wetlands International)

The rise in global food prices

Agrofuels and the right to food in Latin America (TNI)

FAO urges reconsidering on biofuel production (FAO)

Fuelling hunger: declaration of the workers unions on agrofuels (IUF)

Food or fuel, that is the burning question (IPS)

Converting food into biofuel a 'crime against humanity' - special rapporteur on right to food (UN)

How biofuels could starve the poor (Foreign Affairs)

Feed people, not cars: agrofuels are no solution to climate change (MADRE)

Latin America and the Caribbean

Agrofuels: fuelling destruction in Latin America (Friends of the Earth International)

European banks financing damaging agrofuels in Latin America (Friends of the Earth Europe)

Brazil of biofuels: Impacts of crops on land, environment and society (Biofuel Watch Center - NGO Repórter Brasil)

Agrofuel sustainability as a smokescreen (Friends of the Earth Europe)

The ecological and social tragedy of crop-based biofuel production in the Americas (Food First)

Agroenergy: myths and impacts in Latin America (Focus on the Global South)

Colombia's palm oil biodiesel push (IRC Americas Program)

The dark side of agrofuels: horror in the "Brazilian California" (IRC Americas Program)

Africa

NGOs warn Africa on the dangers of biofuels (WRM)

The new scramble for Africa (Seedling/GRAIN)

Agrofuels in Africa – the impacts on land, food and forests (African Biodiversity Network)

Biofuels and Africa (Pambazuka)


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