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Ziegler: biofuel is 'a crime against humanity'

Latest update : 2008-04-14

UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler attacked mass biofuel plantations, calling them 'crime[s] against humanity'. He accuses agro-energy of fueling the present global food crisis.

Massive production of biofuels is "a crime against humanity" because of its impact on global food prices, a UN official said Monday on German radio.

"Producing biofuels today is a crime against humanity," UN Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food Jean Ziegler told Bayerischer Runfunk radio.

Using arable land to produce crops for biofuels has reduced surfaces available to grow food, many observers warn.

Ziegler called on the International Monetary Fund to change its policies on agricultural subsidies and to stop supporting only programs aimed at debt reduction.

Agriculture should also be subsidied in regions where it ensured the survival of local populations, he said.

Ziegler also accused the European Union of agricultural dumping in Africa.

"The EU finances the exports of European agricultural surpluses to Africa ... where they are offered at one half or one third of their (production) price," the UN official charged.

"That completely ruins African agriculture," he added.

"In addition, international market speculation on food commodities must cease," Zielger said.

In an interview with the French centre-left daily Liberation, he warned the world was headed "towards a very long period of riots" and other types of conflicts stemming from food shortages and price increases.

In recent months, rising food costs have sparked violent protests in  Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Haiti, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mauritania, the Philippines and other countries.

In Pakistan and Thailand, army troops have been deployed to avoid the seizure of food from fields and warehouses, while price increases fueled a general strike in Burkina Faso.

Date created : 2008-04-14