"When it comes to biofuels--especially corn-based ethanol--the jury is in. What is supposed to be a universally accepted human right--namely, the right to adequate food for the world's 854 million hungry people--is being threatened by the mad conversion of wheat, sugar, soy--and corn--into fuel instead of food.
"It is a crime against humanity to convert agricultural productive soil into soil which produces food stuff that will be burned into biofuel," Jean Ziegler, the UN special rapporteur on the Right to Food, recently told reporters.
"I am gravely concerned that biofuels will bring hunger in their wake," he said, branding the "sudden, ill-conceived dash to convert food" into fuels "is a recipe for disaster."
"Ziegler is right--and not alone in his criticism. Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, the CEO of Nestlé, the world's biggest food and beverage company, has condemned the push for increased biofuel production as "ecological insanity." Zeroing in on ethanol, he recently told a German magazine that since one liter of the agro-fuel requires the use of 4,560 liters of water, ethanol is a "waste of our most precious resource--water."
The Nestle CEO said: "Biofuels cause an increase of prices for basic food items. Automobile drivers in the rich industrial nations are being subsidized at the expense of the poorest among the world population."
"Moreover, ethanol will not improve air quality. On the contrary; ethanol is likely to increase air pollution, particularly in smog-covered cities in California, i.e. in the Sacramento Valley, the San Joaquin Valley and Los Angeles. A Stanford University study found that ethanol poses the same or worse health risks than gasoline.
But the ethanol lobby, which wields considedrable influence over US lawmakers with campaign contributions, is having its way in Washington. Blind acceptance of biofuels is the order of the day. Every politician and Presidential candidate clearly feels compelled to toe the party line."