Ethanol trade association leaders from the United States, Canada, Europe and Brazil got together last week at the F.O. LICHT´S World Ethanol 2007 conference in Amsterdam and united against a common enemy – the United Nations … at least the recent interim report issued by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Ziegler and some choice comments like calling biofuels production a “crime against humanity” and a “recipe for disaster.”
In a letter to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the heads of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), the European Bioethanol Fuel Association (EBIO), the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA), and the Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA), detailed some specific concerns the world ethanol industry has about the assumptions and conclusions made by Mr. Ziegler. Specifically, the groups pointed to the economic and environmental benefits ethanol provides that Mr. Ziegler has marginalized or ignored completely. Moreover, the letter also details some of the more immediate factors limiting the availability of food in some regions of the world.
The report ignores the fact that food prices have increased far less than petroleum prices. Over the last three years, when biofuels gained momentum, agricultural prices have gone up by 7% while oil prices jumped by more than 70%. In fact, the sharp increase in oil prices is largely responsible for the increase in food prices.
Mr. Secretary General, we urge the United Nations to review the Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food with a focus on sound science, credible studies, and a comprehensive view of the biofuels sector
rather than unsupported assumptions and selected anecdotes. We stand ready to participate in this revision process. Specifically, each signatory to this letter plans to submit additional comments and recommendations to the Special Rapporteur to address specific inaccuracies and concerns regarding its policy recommendations.
Last week, leaders of the four organization issued a joint statement on the necessity of developing a robust and vibrant renewable biofuels industry around the globe, which concluded:
“Through cooperation and technology, we can responsibly and sustainably increase the production and use of renewable fuels and encourage others to take the essential first steps toward a more secure and stable energy and environmentally-sensible future.”
The four ethanol group leaders are Gordon Quaiattini, President of CRFA; Robert Vierhout, Secretary General of eBIO; Bob Dinneen, President of RFA; and Marcos Jank, President of UNICA.