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  • Publicado : 16 de febrero de 2012
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As soaring commodity prices spark food riots around the globe, prompting a U.N. official to dub the production of biofuels at the expense of food cultivation "a crime against humanity," the debateover the efficiency and morality of using plants as an energy source is heating up. And Brazil, the world's largest producer of biofuels and leader in cheap and efficient production of ethanol, isfighting back against what it calls "disinformation and dishonesty."
A number of recent studies have suggested that ethanol production does more harm than good to the environment, and is at least partlyresponsible for the sharp jump in global food prices. And U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Jean Ziegler caused a stir when he told a radio interviewer, "Burning food today, so as to servethe mobility of the rich countries, is a crime against humanity," and called for a five-year moratorium on further production. Skepticism of the environmental cost-benefit advantages of biofuels hasbeen echoed in a number of articles and op-eds in major Western media outlets, including TIME.
But Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva complains that the criticism is driven by an ulteriormotive. He suggests it forms part of a concerted effort by the industrialized world to prevent Brazil, one of the world's most important agricultural powers, from taking its place at the top table. Theproblem, he argues, lies with the "same old policies of the rich countries," such as subsidies and tariffs.
"Biofuels are not the villains threatening the food security of poorer nations," Lulatold delegates at the Food and Agricultural Organization's regional conference in Brasilia last week. "Quite the contrary, as long as they are developed with the right criteria, and in keeping with eachnation's own reality, they can be essential instruments for generating wealth and lifting nations out of food and energy insecurity... The real crime against humanity is discounting biofuels a...