Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie

Agrofuels

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The PASC launched its campaign against agrofuels in 2004 in solidarity with the accompanied communities in the Bajo Atrato, in the Choco region.

 

Agrofuels.* The word is in fashion, or perhaps more so its ideological counterpart, “biodiesel” or "biofuel", which evokes ecological values linked to sustainable development. However, nothing could be further from the truth. From an ecological point of view, agrofuels produce more greenhouse gasses than fossil fuels, as well as being developed by an agro-industry which favours intense monoculture crops, intense consumption of chemical products, and causes soil degradation, often in the form of deforestation and desertification. For these reasons, among others, this type of monoculture poses a direct threat to food sovereignty, biodiversity, water reserves, and finally, it accelerates the ecological crisis and the destruction of small peasant farming.

If this new green gold rush allows energy tycoons to continue hunting for profits with an “ecological” or “sustainable” stamp, the goal none-the-less remains unchanged: provide (over)consumption societies the energy necessary to pursue their current frantic rhythm of production. Is there a “fuel energy crisis”? Is oil running out, and its reserves are controlled by states non-aligned with Western powers? Who cares! The response to the energy crisis consists of repeating the oil scenario: intensive exploitation, environmental destruction, the colonization of peasant lands (or... imperialist wars for control over strategic territories). According to the NGO GRAIN , “for business men and politicians alike, agrofuels certainly represent one of the most acceptable forms of 'renewable' energy, as they can easily be integrated in the already-existing oil-based economy.”

 

According to estimates, the largest agricultural producers need to devote between 30% (in the case of the United States) and 70% (in the case of the European Union) of their annual agricultural production to the agrofuel industry, so that their energy consumption integrates only 10% of said biodiesel. Because the Western powers don't risk putting their food sovereignty in jeopardy in order to “green” their energy consumption, the production of agrofuels necessarily falls on the shoulders of countries in the global South. Behind the mask of a new discourse of a “green revolution”, economies of the South are invited to maintain their role as exporters of raw materials, defined according to the expansionist needs of the capitalist North.

 

Agrofuels fit under the category of “strategic products” being pushed by the Colombian government for exportation and for its so-called “alternative and social development programs”, supposedly destined to replace coca cultivation and to promote the reintegration of demobilized armed actors.

 

If, as the sadly famous American National Security Advisor Henry Kissenger used to say: “He who controls oil controls entire nations; he who controls food controls people”, then the agrofuels industry presents itself as the panacea in terms of control over populations and territories.

 

Agrofuels are obtained from oilseed plants (such as African palm, canola, or soy) or from ethanol, which comes from the fermentation of cellulose found in vegetables (such as corn, sugar cane, or wheat).