Biofuels and Hunger, Two Sides of the Same Coin
In the meantime, the social effects of the growing demand for biofuels are aggravating. For instance, a large percentage of Guatemala’s indigenous population is facing a new hunger crisis because of land grabbing, forced evictions and water diversion to create large-scale monoculture plantations of palm oil trees and sugar cane for biofuel.
In one such case in March last year, Guatemalan police and soldiers evicted more than 3000 indigenous people from their homes in Guatemala’s Polochic valley to make room for a large-scale plantation. Banned from their land, these 700 families are now facing severe malnutrition and high child mortality as a consequence of diarrhoea or fever.
Herman believes the problem will get even worse as in the years to come, as traditional players have become increasingly interested in biofuels as well. “Shell and BP invested heavily in Brazilian sugar cane last year,” he stressed. “They want to remain leaders in the fuel sector and they are lobbying in Brussels as well.”