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A cap on hunger

Precisely what is meant by sustainable development has never been entirely clear, but you could be forgiven for thinking that it was something to do with killing off as many people in the third world as possible. Take, for example, the case of biofuels, which were touted by Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth (among others) as important contributors to sustainable development and a mighty blow in the war against fossil fuels to boot. When European farmers saw the possibilities it was not long before corrupt bureaucrats in the EU leapt into action and put legislation in place to make the dreams of environmentalists and farmers a reality.

The problem was that it was a reality that involved quite a lot of hunger, not a little outright starvation, and perhaps some landgrabs too.

Seeing this, environmentalists have, without so much as a hint of an apology, done an about-face and are now vigorously campaigning against the biofuels that they were just as vociferously demanding only a few years ago. Unfortunately, the EU bureaucracy has, however, not shown quite the same alacrity in cancelling its legislation. However, in a gesture towards those suffering in poorer parts of the world it will today vote on a cap on the use of food crops in biofuels.

I feel sure that people suffering from hunger will be much comforted by the thought that the EU is making sure that levels of hunger do not increase any further.

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Reader Comments (25)

BP gave Pachauri's TERI $9.5million (£6.1million) between 2006 and 2009 for planting 8,000 hectares of jatropha, a type of bush, as part of a bio-diesel research project., ;
"....jatropha requires an average of 20,000 liters of water for every liter of biodiesel produced in India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Guatemala–the only countries for which jatropha production figures were available."

"In East Godavari district, Andhra Pradesh, India the aggressive promotion of jatropha is being done by TERI, (The Energy Resource Institute) in partnership with British Petroleum, UK (B P Technology Centre (BPTC).

BPTC has financed the program to the tune of USD 9.4 million. The plantations began in 2008 on the homelands and territories of Indigenous people.

Most saplings have died. Those that have survived are stunted in their growth with no signs of flowering or fruiting due to severe drought and heat conditions. Farmers have been forced to make huge investments in terms of irrigation, ploughing and manuring to get a good yield from Jatropha at the cost of their food. Jatropha undermines farmers’ livelihoods and food sovereignty in India.

Jatropha cultivation is completely unsustainable and hazardous for the poor farmers as it replaces their food production and makes them dependent on wage labour and forces them to purchase food at high costs.

Above all it undermines the food sovereignty and rights of farmer for autonomy over food production and its related land and water. It is therefore unavoidable that, as a consequence of the promotion of biofuels policy, the land rights of indigenous peoples and local communities will be relinquished further, and that food security will be undermined and lands for agricultural purposes and subsistence livelihoods will diminish."

So much for sustainability.....

Feb 24, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Cripes, your Grace, European (inc. British) politicians are, like all polite ladies, never wrong. So there could be no question of cancelling any legislation. The same with the ban on phthalates instigated by Greenslime. At least the government of Israel saw through that, and revoked their ban.

Feb 24, 2015 at 9:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterAllan M

Greenpeace in particular are a truly vile organisation. They campaigned loudly for biofuels despite numerous people clearly pointing out the inevitable result such policies would have on food prices, particularly for the poorest, but at the same time have done everything possible to prevent the introduction of Golden Rice which could save 250,000 people in the developing world annually from death or blindness.

Everyone who contributes to this organisation has blood on their hands.

Feb 24, 2015 at 9:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Good to know that the EU Department of Unintended Consequences is alive and well, and working as efficiently as the UK government's own version...

...and then there's Ed Moribund, with his promise to freeze energy prices if (Gawd 'elp us) Labour gets in on May 7th...
Energy firm bosses: 'Triples all round lads..! We would have cut energy bills due to the fall in oil prices, but now Ed Milliband says we don't have to..! Max profits, eh..?'

Feb 24, 2015 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

It is the ability to put other people's money where one's own mouth is, that is the fatal flaw of social democracy. How much better if the enthusiasts for biofuels had had to fund the exercise themselves. In the first place most of it would never have happened because most of them lacked the money, the land, the know-how; in the second place, those who tried would have gone bankrupt pretty smartly, at which point the rest of us could reasonably expect a period of silence from zealots who, whilst proposing to lead the way to Paradise, ended up in Carey Street. Agitation for the expenditure of other peoples money allows all sorts of madness to happen. The most psychologically damaged can make the most compelling arguments.

Feb 24, 2015 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterbill

"Precisely what is meant by sustainable development has never been entirely clear,"

That is not correct. The definition is very clearly laid out as development (originally referring to economic development but not excluding social and environmental improvements/development) which do not produce improvements because they focus on one aspect and fail to appreciate the overall picture whereby changes in other areas of society, economy, environment undermine the original goal so that it is "not sustainable" (in the literal sense - it will not be sustained).

Like everything else, the greens have used this and falsely portrayed "sustainable" as "being green". From which comes the frequent idea that "green=sustainable". But this is completely nonsense. Because you can e.g. have "environmental development" such as windmills that so undermine the society and economy of those countries gullible enough to fall for these eco-sharks, that you end up with a society that rejects all forms of environmentalism and an economy unable to fund environmental projects.

So windmills are literally unsustainable and should be rejected as such.

Feb 24, 2015 at 10:02 AM | Registered CommenterMikeHaseler

Off-topic, but I note trom The Times that the Met Office is going on trike..

Does that mean we won't get any weather..?

Feb 24, 2015 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

Sustainable development:
1) The greens way of keeping the serfs in their place to ensure the masters are never troubled. It is also a form of genocide in poor nations to ensure they never get to a stage where they can challenge the authority of their green lead NGOs.

2) Providing machinery, infrastructure and training in its use to the populations of poor countries to allow them to produce food and other goods at such a level that they can trade with to rest of the world and so bring their GDP up to world levels.

The west, following the dictates of the green blob follow 1), the Chinese, because they see it as an aid to their industry, follow 2).

Feb 24, 2015 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered Commenterivan

...perhaps that ought to be 'strike'....

Get a grip, sherlock1....

Feb 24, 2015 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

In years to come, following the false evidence manufactured from dendrochronolgy, will come subsidychronology.

Subsidychronology will be the science of studying the sudden proliferation of specific plant species, in response to growing condions, artificially created by man.

It will demonstrate the link between daft legislation, lucrative subsidies, and correlations with deaths through famine.

Environmentalists will argue, until they are green in the face, that correlation does not equal causation

Feb 24, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Aren't the middle class greens wonderful

Banning DDT causing millions to die from malaria
Initially supporting biofuels so large amounts of much needed arable land is turned over to fuel production
Demand daft renewables so fuel poverty rises
Undemocratically try and block shale development - helping Putin

Speaking of Green stupidity

"Natalie Bennett: Greens believe Britain should appease Russia’s President Putin"

Didn't Chamberlain do this with someone else? Yes that went well

Feb 24, 2015 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

I may be wrong but I am sure I read an argument somewhere asserting that the biofuels bollocks has led to the islamic turmoil we now see brewing up around the world?

Arab Spring and all that due to high food prices...

Feb 24, 2015 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterjones

Yes sherlock1 but only for three hours.

Another of the popular memes from both the environmentalists and a lot of other spheres, is over population. To which I ask 'what are you prepared to do about it?' Since it's the poorest populations in the world that are multiplying, what can we do? Genocide? Put something in the water? Remove all aid? Forced one child rules?

There is only one kind way to reduce population and that is our modern society where people make financial decisions balencing desire to reproduce with the desire for a quieter, more prosperous life.

It really is time that policy was based on what really happens and not on an impossible, utopian fantasy.

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Pachauri's gone according to Guido Fawkes.

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

'Rajendra Pachauri steps down as chair of the U.N. panel of climate scientists - U.N. statement '

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterMat


Oh, "strike" - I see. I thought you meant the Met Office were adopting new green modes of transport in order to save the planet from CAGW..

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

At least Pachuri can retire knowing that he has improved the lifestyles of thousands of Green Activists. Without his leadership, none of them would have achieved such ill gotten gains.

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Oh the irony burns , the head of the green church 'falls on his sword' after trying to get some of the more impressionable of the congregation to touch his sword !

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterMat

Should vehicles displaying stickers promoting bio diesel, actually have supplements noting the promotion of malnutrition, and death by starvation?

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

As part of their bid to 'save the planet' I hear that our beloved BBC (World Service?) will soon be doing a virtual remake of 'the great butterfly collectors' "The Population Bomb".
The prophetic treatise of Elrich stated that by 2015 we are all doomed in an unsustainable future whereby we have run out of - well - everything.
It appears from this latest BBC nonsense, that our use of real fuels and population growth will lead to the end of the world (again).
When I find out more information I will update - unless some bright spark on here can elucidate.

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterpatrick healy

Our wonderful Government defines sustainable thus:

Sustainable means ensuring that better lives for ourselves don’t mean worse lives for future generations
Our wonderful Government also says this:
International and national bodies have set out broad principles of sustainable development. Resolution 24/187 of the United Nations General Assembly defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The UK Sustainable Development Strategy Securing the Future set out five ‘guiding principles’ of sustainable development: living within the planet’s environmental limits; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly

It's a pity they ignore the priciples.

Feb 24, 2015 at 11:56 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

The adjective placed in front of common nouns such as 'development' and 'justice' are used by the Green/Left to totally reverse their meaning.

Thus 'sustainable development' means no development, 'social justice' and 'climate justice' mean no justice, and so on,

Doubtless Ms Figueres is referring to 'sustainable development' when she presses for the unraveling of the last 150 years of actual development.

Feb 24, 2015 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

I think you are outright wrong here. I can't remember any real environmentalists promoting biofuels (leaving out the clueless nouveaux faux-greens and rent-seekers). In the eighties politicians encouraged fuel crops initially to subsidise farmers and they later just stuck on the green label in one of the first of many examples of blatant green-washing.

However traditional environmentalist organisations have been consistently against the devastation of existing forests for plantations and always heavily against any notion that food be sacrificed for fuel. Sure be angry but at least be fair!

One of the most galling pretensions of both sides in this green versus black farrago is that either gives a rats arse for the poor in the first place; they are handy political footballs in pseudo-intellectual debates but are otherwise shunned.

Feb 24, 2015 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG


I thought 'trike' was a sustainable form of transport...

Feb 24, 2015 at 2:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Biofuels are a complicated issue. Several essays in my book. A disaster for orangutangs as jungle is comverted to palm oil plantation for biodiesel.
But the impact on global food is much less than many suppose. In the US about 41% of the maize (corn) crop goes for ethanol to meet the E10 blend wall. The original motivation was to enhance octane (replacing polluting MBTE which replaced tetraethyl lead), and as an oxygenate to reduce NOX and improve exhaust catalysis, both reducing smog. Except in Africa where it is a staple crop grown locally, corn is mostly used for animal feed with a net conversion of carbohydrate calories to meat calories of 4:1 (poultry best, beef worst, pork in the middle). The 27% distillers grain left over from ethanol fermentation is an excellent fiber and protein enriched animal feed, especially for beef and dairy. We use it on my dairy farm, which allows us to grow and feed less alfalfa, which allows us to grow more corn than would otherwise be possible. The real impact of US ethanol biofuel is (41-27) 14% of corn, and zero soy, wheat, or other ag export staples.
Green opposition to golden rice and other GMO crops (pest resistant corn improved yields by 30-35 % in Mexico where subsidence farmers cannot afford pestcides against things like root worm (the larvae of a beetle)) is the real crime causing hunger and malnutrition.

Feb 24, 2015 at 3:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

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