Food Crisis Points to ‘Imminent Massacre,’ UN Official Says

April 19th, 2008 - by admin & Islam Online – 2008-04-19 23:12:59

UNITED NATIONS (April 14, 2008) — The United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food has blasted the booming industry of biofuel for diverting fertile land from essential food production, as the world’s top economic bodies warned of the food crisis dire consequences.

“Producing biofuels today is a crime against humanity,” Jean Ziegler told the German radio station Bayerischer Runfunk on Monday, April 14. He said the massive production of biofuel is having a disastrous impact on global food supplies.

Biofuel, also called agrofuel, is the fuel derived from recently dead biological material, most commonly plants. Using arable land to produce crops for biofuel has reduced surfaces available to grow food worldwide, explained the UN official.

Instead of supporting biofuel production on the expense of agricultural land, he stressed, the world must work for providing agricultural subsidies. Ziegler urged governments to help subsidizing agriculture in regions where the survival of local populations is dependent on it.

Addressing the UN General Assembly late last year, Ziegler called for a five-year moratorium on all initiatives to develop biofuel in order to avert food shortages. Diplomats from countries pursuing such fuels, such as Brazil and Colombia, foiled his proposal.

The issue has become the center of international debate recently, with one side supporting biofuel as planet-friendly green energy and a major breakthrough in the fight against climate change while the other blams it for food shortage.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged his Japanese counterpart to include the impact of biofuel production on food prices on the agenda of the G8 summit in July.

Last month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for a comprehensive review of biofuel policy as a crisis in food prices threatens to global stability.

Millions at Risk
The UN warning came as the two leading world economic bodies painted a bleak picture of the globally-hiking food prices.

“Based on a rough analysis, we estimate that a doubling of food prices over the last three years could potentially push 100 million people in low-income countries deeper into poverty,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick said at the end of a summit with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington.

With riots spreading in many world countries over the soaring prices, the food crisis was at the center of attention at the weekend’s spring meetings of the 185-nation WB and its twin institution, the IMF.

Zoellick said the crisis could mean “seven lost years” in the world fight against poverty. He exhorted governments to step in to address the “immediate crisis.”

“This is not just a question about short-term needs, as important as those are. This is about ensuring that future generations don’t pay a price too. We have to put our money where our mouth is now so that we can put food into hungry mouths. It’s as stark as that.”

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), thirty-seven countries currently face food crises.

Dominque Strauss-Kahn, the IMF chief, predicted dire consequences. “Food prices, if they go on like they are doing today… the consequences will be terrible.”

The UN figures show that global food prices rose 35 percent in the year to the end of January. It has also surged up 65 percent since 2002. Prices of rice, wheat, corn, cooking oil, milk and other foodstuffs have all risen sharply in recent months, sparking violent protests in many countries.

Strauss-Kahn admitted that surging food prices stoke fears of greater global conflicts. “As we know, learning from the past, those kinds of questions sometimes end in war.”

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