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Biofuel bonanza not so sweet for Brazil’s sugar cane cutters
Terry Macalister, Guardian
Half a million jobs and 500 years of tradition are to be phased out in Brazil’s booming sugar cane industry to satisfy western demands for more socially acceptable work practices in the biofuel sector.
Sugar cane cutters who have been working Brazil’s land since 1525, when Portuguese colonialists first experimented with growing the crop, are to make way for mechanisation.
The Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA) said 80% of the 500,000 jobs would be gone within three years and admitted that moving to a tractor-based system would cause pain and upheaval for its migrant workforce.
(4 June 2008)
US biofuel subsidies under attack at food summit
Julian Borger, Guardian
US subsidies for biofuel production were condemned by the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) this morning, who said they were depriving people of food.
Opening a UN food crisis summit in Rome, Jacques Diouf attacked the subsidies for corn ethanol during a wide-ranging critique of global policies on climate change and food security, which he said were slanted to favour the west.
“Nobody understands [why] $11-12bn of subsidies in 2006 and protective tariff policies [should be used to] divert 100m tonnes of cereals from human consumption, mostly to satisfy a thirst for fuel for vehicles,” Diouf, the FAO director general, said. It was a thinly veiled attack. The FAO estimates US subsidies for the production of corn ethanol at $11-12bn.
(3 June 2008)
Petrol tax fuels ‘cooking oil wars’
Adam Lusher, The Telegraph
The demand for waste oil, which can be used to produce cheap fuel for cars, has become so great that rival collectors are being drawn into “turf wars”..
At the same time, restaurant owners are demanding ever higher prices for the fat from their fryers, which they once simply discarded.
Competition has become so intense that some racketeers are stealing oil and equipment from opponents in what have been dubbed “cooking oil wars”.
….Restaurateurs say they are amazed at the demand for used cooking oil. Once upon a time they had to pay to have it taken away. Now vegetable oil for biodiesel production fetches 40p a litre, having recently doubled in price..
(1 June 2008)