Biofuels, specifically corn-based ethanol, are being blamed for everything from rising food prices and famine to the degradation of land for biocrops (allowing Canada to breathe a sigh of relief). A lot of these critiques are spot on, but when complex politics are involved, it can be hard to see through the fog. Regardless, the biofuel industry has decided it’s not taking the blows sitting down.
An ethanol trade industry group has sent a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon raising concerns over the “apocalyptic” statements made by Jean Ziegler, the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food. Ziegler called biofuels “a crime against humanity” and asked for a five-year ban on the practice. Sure, there’s a lot of problems with the biofuels industry, but comparing the market with the equivalent of genocide seems a tad extreme.
The letter, which is signed by Gordon Quaiattini, president of the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association; Robert Vierhout, secretary general of the European Bioethanol Fuel Association; Bob Dinneen, president of the Renewable Fuels Association; and Marcos Jank, president of Sugar Cane Industry Association, outlines the negative statements that the group finds most offensive. You can read the letter in its entirety here.
The letter states that Ziegler’s words:
“…are not only unjustified but also unacceptable to those of us who contribute to this emerging industry and millions of people around the world who benefit from renewable biofuels everyday.”
The WSJ points out:
The ethanol industry, which has nearly doubled production since 2005, is coming under increasing fire when it is also fighting for enhanced government support to keep the industry alive. Ethanol plants are struggling to make ends meet because ethanol prices are nearly 30% lower from earlier this year and corn prices are still relatively high.
Can an organized PR effort from Big Ethanol help turn the tide on growing anti-biofuel sentiments? Well money and marketing devoted to the cause sure can’t hurt. We’re thinking we’ll be seeing a lot more of this over the coming months.