Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Where IS This Oil Addiction Leading?

"When crimes begin to pile up they become invisible.
When sufferings become unendurable, the cries are no longer heard.
The cries, too, fall like rain in summer."

--Bertolt Brecht

Just how far are governments willing to go in order to supply those who can still afford it with oil?

And just how many lives are you willing to risk in order to maintain your oil high?

excerpt from:
Reuters AlertNet - Mexico's flood survivors blackmailed into biofuels

Written by: Gregory Berger and Ben Wisner

A Mexican couple wades through floodwaters in Villahermosa, Tabasco, the state neighbouring Chiapas, November 2007.
REUTERS/Manuel Lopez

Did you know that Mexican farmers who lost everything in floods last year are being forced to grow African oil palms for biodiesel?

I was in southern Mexico covering another story, and found flood victims being offered loans and grants by the Mexican government to resume their farming activities, but with a catch. They need to agree to stop growing corn and beans - their traditional crops - and replace them with the oil palms that are native to West Africa.

I was told this by multiple, reliable sources who wish to remain anonymous for fears of their own safety.

African oil palm has also promoted as a "substitute crop" by U.S. government agencies assisting countries such as Bolivia and Colombia in eradicating coca leaf cultivation, used to produce cocaine.

Small-scale farmers have lost their land, and in Colombia the resulting large-scale African oil palm producers have been linked with paramilitary organisations.

All this is happening as we witness a steep rise in worldwide food prices stirred up by a "perfect storm" of factors. One of the factors identified by the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food and others is the shift of farm land from food crop production to biofuel production.

Competition with U.S. industrial corn producers under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has driven many small Mexican farmers out of business.

Even before the current crisis, the maize-based staple - flat corn patties called tortillas - became more costly as a result. Conscious of this recent history, displaced flood victims are likely to have second thoughts about relying on biofuel production for income to buy food. Rural Mexicans traditionally value their ability to grown their own food and are adverse to risk.

There are certainly pros and cons to African oil palm production. However, the displaced farmers from San Juan Grijalva should be able to decide themselves whether they want to grow them.

Farmers may see its advantage if oil palm is grown on small-scale, mixed farms, marketed in an honest way, and used as a local energy source.

But under coercion and in the face of rapidly changing market conditions for both biofuel and food, they probably fear the worse and feel trapped between a rock and a hard place.

Here in the United States many farmers who once raised corn crops used to produce livestock feed are instead selling those crops to the ethanol production plant. A move which is certainly contributing to rising food prices. And as mountain-top mining is poisoning the drinking water of thousands in Appalachia, there is support for adopting technologies to convert coal to liquid fuel.

How much of our souls are we willing to sell in order to keep driving Escalades and Humvees?

In the following video Meredith Danluck and VBS correspondent Derrick Beckles went to West Virginia to show how mining companies are destroying entire mountains in order to get at the coal inside them.

Does This Bother You?

Related posts:

It's Time for An Intervention

When Knowledge Obviously Was Not Wisdom

Much Talk About Oil But Little About Water

What Is Your Bank Doing to Fuel Global Warming?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.