indonesia forest destruction palm oilCanadian parliamentarians moved a step closer to diverting more food to feed our unsustainable car culture.  Bill C-33 passed second reading today, with support from the Bloc, Liberals and Conservatives.  It allows government to set a 5% minimum ethanol content in Canadian gasoline and 2% minimum on diesel.  Meanwhile, it is predicted that the global number of people suffering from hunger is expected to increase 50% over the coming decade to 1.2 billion people over the coming decade as a result of increased food prices.

News Release:

Ethanol minimums passed in Parliament spell more global food woes

1 May 2008 (Ottawa) — A bill passed in the House of Commons today could see more of our already limited food supply fed to cars and SUVs instead of people, says Greenpeace.

Bill C-33 puts science and human need aside, clearing the way for increases in the amount of ethanol in gasoline to five per cent and increases in agrofuel in diesel fuel to two per cent at a time when global food stores are at their lowest since the 1970s.

“Bill C-33 is nothing but a subsidy to big agribusiness at enormous cost to the environment,” said Josh Brandon, a sustainable agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace. “It takes food away from those who can least afford it, in order to feed our addiction to gasoline. It’s hypocritical of the Canadian government to offer $50 million in global food aid while at the same time promoting ethanol as a sustainable fuel source.”  

In addition to contributing to declining food supplies, agrofuels are also contributing to global warming. Taking into account fertilizer usage, transportation and the full life cycle analysis of the plants themselves, agrofuels such as corn ethanol produce more greenhouse gasses than traditional gasoline.

But despite soaring food prices, hunger riots and the recent denouncement of agrofuels by UN Special Rapporteur Jean Zeigler as a crime against humanity, Liberal, Bloc and Conservative MPs voted in favour of the legislation, which for the first time in Canadian history sets firm minimums on ethanol levels in gasoline.