12:00 AM, September 15, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 15, 2007

Producing biofuel a threat to food security

Expert tells discussion

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Staff Correspondent

Producing biofuel from plants and foodgrains will be a threat to food security as well as the environment, said an environmentalist and biodiversity expert at a discussion yesterday.
The discussion titled 'Biofuel: Threat to environment and food production!' was organised by Ubinig, an NGO, at the National Press Club in the city.
Shalini Bhutani of India said in the face of global energy crisis, many countries of America, Europe and Asia are producing fuel from grains and plants.
Such efforts by the giant companies are going to bring disastrous effects on human life, as there is already a shortage of arable land and food crops, she said.
Shalini, coordinator of Delhi office of GRAIN, an international NGO working on biodiversity, said biofuel is most commonly used for transportation and heating replacing oil.
Ethanol, butanol, methanol, biodiesel are various types of agrofuel that are produced from corn and soybean in the USA, wheat, rapeseed, sugar beet in Europe, sugar cane in Brazil, palm oil in South East Asia, coconut oil in the Philippines and jatropha, pongemia and sugar beet in India, she noted.
"Interestingly, a few giant multinational companies that control the energy markets will also dominate the food grains or plants for producing biofuel. Thus, food prices will be hiked due to shortage of food," Shalini said.
Such technology will only contribute to setting up of more industries and usages of automobile that will emit more green house gas, she added.
"Current push to expand the use of biofuel is creating tensions that will disrupt markets without generating significant environmental benefits," Shalini said quoting from a summit of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Ubinig Executive Director Farida Akhter said they got to know that a Japanese firm Honda Denki Co has expressed its interest to invest $1 billion in biofuel and sugar sector, and Bangladesh was quite happy to the offer.
"Such kind of investment must not be accepted without analysing the consequences," she said, adding that food grains that are used for human being must not be allowed to be used for fuel that in turn is destroying the environment of the earth.
"We urge the government to reduce the use of private cars and stop their imports," Farida Akhter said, adding that global warming, which has already become a serious threat to climate, should be stopped.
The USA having 30 percent of the world's vehicles contributes to the 45 percent of carbondioxide emission, she said.
Ubinig Managing Director Farhad Mazhar said people in the developing countries would be the worst victims at the cost of biofuel production.

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