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EU is fuelling hunger with biofuels: Report

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The European Union's ambitious target for biofuel consumption might be the answer to energy security, climate change and rural development, but if a new study is to be believed, it has much worse and unlikely effect on poor countries. It says that the EU's industrial biofuels made from agricultural crops is fuelling hunger in such countries.

The 53-page detailed report compiled by British charity Action Aid in several developing countries including Mozambique and Tanzania last year warns against the EU target of deriving 10 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources.

The report christened 'the impact of industrial biofuels on people and global hunger: Meals per gallon,' said the EU's ambitious biofuel consumption target is threatening rural survival in poor countries.

The British charity warns that biofuels have in fact become a major cause of the food shortage and hunger crisis is likely to get worse. Industrial biofuels are currently made from maize, wheat, sugar cane and oil seeds such as palm oil, soy and rapeseed.

The rapidly rising demand for crops for fuel has put them into competition with those grown for food, driving food prices higher and affecting what and how much people eat in developing countries," ActionAid noted.

The ActionAid report also warns that biofuels will be making climate change and hunger worse because crops being cultivated do not have lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to fossil fuels.

"This is because: converting forests, peatlands or permanent grasslands to grow biofuel crops is an important cause of GHGs (direct land use change); converting existing food crop land to biofuel crops often has a displacement effect," said ActionAid report.

Source: Allafrica

Write to d-sector  |  Editor's Note

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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