Grassroots International has been working with a group of organizations that first met together in Atlanta at the U.S. Social Forum in June 2007 to discuss what to do about biofuels and U.S. food and fuel policies. After much deliberation, these groups. including Grassroots, have formed a national coalition and are calling for an immediate moratorium on U.S. incentives for agrofuels, U.S. agroenergy monocultures and global trade in agrofuels.
The Call comes as the United States Congress has passed the Energy Independence and Security Act with strong bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate to mandate the use of 36 billion gallons of agrofuels per year by 2022-a five-fold increase over present levels.
Establishing such a dramatically expanded mandate makes it inevitable that a significant portion of the agrofuels requirement will be met with imported sources such as palm oil from Southeast Asia and Latin America, and especially sugarcane ethanol and soy biodiesel from Brazil. The Coalition believes that if the US seeks to transfer its dependency on foreign oil to a dependency on foreign agrofuels, US energy independence and security will not improve. Rather, conflicts in these areas will increase as agribusiness expands its control over land and markets in the South, driven largely by U.S. consumption.
Evidence shows that agrofuels cause deforestation and environmental damage, worsen global warming, and seriously threaten food, land and other human rights of indigenous and traditional communities, the rural poor, and exacerbate land and labor conflicts. The recent murder of Vía Campesina member Valmir Mota de Oliveira at Syngenta Seeds’ illegal experimental camp for genetically-modified crops, in the state of Paraná, Brazil, is just one example of the violence being provoked by the growing hegemony of agribusiness in the South.
At the pinnacle of this hegemony are the U.S. Big Grain giants Archer Daniels Midland, Bunge and Cargill, which, in 2004, were responsible for about 60% of the total financing of soy production in Brazil. In reality, further development of the agrofuels industry will only benefit large multinational corporations and their shareholders in the Global North.
It is imperative that the Call for an Immediate Moratorium on U.S. incentives for agrofuels is heard.
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Initial signatories include:
- Food First
- Family Farm Defenders
- Global Justice Ecology Project
- Grassroots International
- Rainforest Action Network
- Student Trade Justice Coalition