Biofuel Boom: Greenwashing and Crimes Against Humanity (Part I)

biofuelboomindexA two-part series that will critically analyze what is being suggested as the worst public policy mistake in a generation. A prominent UN representative calls it a “crime against humanity”, and this “crime” may shock even the most environmentally conscious of individuals, because it is in reference to biofuels, a technology that is in the early stages of an unprecedented boom around the world. The green image being painted by industry and world leaders is doing little to convince skeptics that using agricultural land to grow fuel is as environmentally friendly as it is reported to be. Compounding the environmental debate, biofuels are being referred to by some of the world’s most influential international organizations as contributing to increases in global hunger at staggering rates. The money being thrown around the world and being invested into these biofuel technologies is incredible. In July 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised 1.5 billion dollars in incentives to get the Canadian biofuel industry up and running. British Petroleum has controversily invested half a billion dollars into biofuel research at the University of California at Berkeley.

The seriousness of this issue has prompted a careful approach to addressing this topic, and this two-part series has been designed to hopefully be the most critical 2-hours of radio produced to date on this rapid emergence of biofuels around the world.

Part I
On this Part I, we explore the key term being used by industry and government to promote the conversion of agricultural crops into fuel, and that term is “renewable”. The word presents an image of green and clean fuel, so much so, that the main biofuel industry association here in Canada is not only called the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association but has secured the web site address Quite an eco-friendly image being painted by the industry. The Canadian government has even placed biofuel initiatives under their new “EcoAction” programs. But are Canadians being duped into thinking that biofuels are the answer to climate change?


Darrin Qualman – Director of ResearchNational Farmers’ Union (NFU) (Saskatoon, SK) – NFU members believe that the problems facing farmers are common problems, and that farmers producing diverse products must work together to advance effective solutions. The NFU works toward the development of economic and social policies that will maintain the family farm as the primary food-producing unit in Canada.

Eric Holt-Gimenez – Executive DirectorFood First (Oakland, CA) – Also known as the Institute for Food and Development Policy, the purpose of Food First is to eliminate the injustices that cause hunger, a purpose they’ve been operating with for over 32 years. The institute was launched by Joseph Collins and Francis Moore Lappe. Lappe is most well known for her book published around that time – Diet for a Small Planet.

Robin Speer – Director of Public AffairsCanadian Renewable Fuels Association (Toronto, ON) – Founded in 1994, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA) mission is to promote the use of renewable fuels for transportation through consumer awareness and government liaison activities. The CRFA membership is comprised of representatives from all levels of the ethanol and biodiesel industry, including: grain and cellulose ethanol producers, biodiesel producers, fuel technology providers, and agricultural associations.

Other Voices

JoAnne Buth – PresidentCanola Council of Canada (Winnipeg, MB) – A national trade association representing producers, input suppliers, processors and marketers of canola and its products. JoAnne was interviewed and recorded speaking by Host Jon Steinman in September 2007 at the CropLife Canada conference in Saskatoon.

Jean Ziegler – Special Rapporteur on the Right to FoodUnited Nations (Geneva, Switzerland) – In September 2000, Jean Ziegler was nominated by the UN Commission on Human Rights to be the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Ziegler is a senior Professor at the University of Geneva and the University of Sorbonne, Paris. At the University of Geneva, he established the Laboratory of sociology for the study of the societies of the Third World, and most of his work has focused on developing countries.

George W. Bush – PresidentUnited States of America (Washington, DC)

Stephen Harper – Prime MinisterCanada (Ottawa, ON)

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva – PresidentBrazil (Brasilia, Brazil)


Musical Selection (name/title/album/label)
Theme/Soundclip – Adham Shaikh, Infusion, Fusion, Sonic Turtle (CDN)