In developing countries across Africa, Asia and South America, farmers are being forced off their land with devastating results. Losing access to land means that communities lose the ability to grow and collect food, water, fuel and other materials. Animals, which are often a main asset and source of income, have nowhere to graze. Communities are no longer able to provide for themselves.
Why is this happening? To make way for the growing of fuel for cars, not food for people.
Four years ago, EU governments committed to sourcing 10 per cent of transport energy from renewable sources by 2020. They are set to meet this target by almost exclusively using biofuels made from food crops such as soy and sugarcane. Sourcing land to grow these crops for fuel is having a devastating impact on some of the world’s poorest people who rely on this land to survive.
In one plantation in Ghana, 69 families were thrown off their land, without being consulted or provided with any compensation. And 1,500 more families could lose land if the plantation develops as planned. Research in Mozambique and Indonesia shows women are often not consulted when land deals are arranged, even though they are often among the most seriously affected.
Biofuel production has a major impact on the environmental resources relied on by people living in developing countries. As huge soy plantations use up local water resources, one community in Paraguay has had to sink wells twice as deep into the ground to reach water suitable for drinking —only hitting the sinking water table after 20 metres, compared with an average of 10 metres before the plantations arrived.
The world has limited resources—land, water, soil—which should be used to produce much-needed food, not to produce crops for biofuel production.
We need to stop land grabs and make sure that investors act in local people‘s interests. EU governments have it within their power to make a difference to the lives of millions of hungry people.
In response to massive campaigns by citizens in the EU and developing countries, the European Commission has now proposed not to ban the use of food to meet its 10% target but to cap it at 5%. But even this weak compromise is being undermined by the Energy Ministers of the EU in the European Council. Energy Ministers from all EU members, including Ireland, will vote on 12th December.
It is completely unacceptable that we are burning food in our petrol tanks while poor families go hungry and millions are being pushed off their land.
Take our e-action now (upper right of this page) and ask Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte to vote to grow food, not fuel.