Brazil's Lula Rebuffs Biofuels Critics at World Food Summit

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday told off critics who have accused Brazil of reducing food production in favor of ethanol, according to a report from Bloomberg News. Instead, Lula says record oil prices and rich countries' farm subsidies are to blame for soaring world food prices.

"Biofuels are not the villain menacing food security in poor countries," Lula said at a global summit in Rome on world food security. "They can play an important role in the economic and social development of developing countries."

Various analysts, including many members of the environmental community, have noted that biofuel crop cultivation is responsible for about one-third of the increase in global food prices that have catalyzed riots in more than 30 countries. But Lula told the summit that cultivation of sugar cane for ethanol accounts for just 1 percent of Brazil's 340 million hectares of arable land. Plantations in Brazil, the world's biggest producer of ethanol from sugar cane, haven't encroached on land used for food cultivation or on the Amazon rainforest, he asserted.

"Subsidies create dependency, break down entire production systems and provoke hunger and poverty. It is high time to do away with them,'' Lula stated. "It offends me to see fingers pointed against clean biofuels—fingers tainted with oil and coal." US corn-based ethanol is an example of a harmful type of biofuel "shot up with subsidies and shielded behind tariff barriers," Lula added. :: Via Bloomberg

See also posts on Biofuels: When Subsidies and Special Interests Collide, Land Use and Biofuels , and the Biofuels Comparison Chart.

Tags: Agriculture | Biofuels | Brazil | Ethanol