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Biofuels in Brazil: A Trojan Horse and a Rallying Cry

March 2008

Biofuels can be effective disguises. They disguise the unseemly profiteering of agribusinesses that earn millions from corn- and sugarcane-based ethanol. They disguise the power-grabbing of governments that use biofuels as political pawns. And they disguise the suffering of land and people in the Global South whenever they are touted as “safe green technologies.”

A new report from the Oakland Institute and Terra de Direitos lifts these disguises and documents how sugarcane grown for ethanol in Brazil has become the country’s international bargaining chip, yet has also mobilized millions of Brazilians–and people throughout Latin America–against the growth of monocultures for export as fuel.

“[The] expansion of monocultures under the corporate-controlled industrial agricultural system… is at the root of nearly all socio-environmental conflicts in Brazil, as throughout the rest of Latin America,” writes Camila Moreno, a researcher at Terra De Direitos and a co-author of the report.

What’s more, the Brazilian government is trying to get ethanol graded as an “eco-friendly” environmental good under the WTO, leading many to believe that biofuels are, as the report says, “a Trojan Horse” to promote free trade agreements.

The report–Food & Energy Sovereignty Now: Brazilian Grassroots Position on Agroenergycan be read here.

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