Agrofuels in the Americas
Richard Jonasse, Editor
Contributors include Miguel Altieri and Elizabeth Bravo, Eric Holt-Giménez and Isabella Kenfield, Annie Shattuck, Richard Jonasse, Gretchen Gordon and Jessica Aguirre, Maria Luisa Mendonca, Laura Hurtado, Rachel Smolker and Brian Tokar.
In the Global South, the rural poor and indigenous populations are losing their access to land, and with it, the ability to feed themselves. The result is poverty and dislocation throughout rural Latin America. On top of this comes rising food prices due to the diversion of agricultural resources to fuel crops. The only recourse for the rural poor lies in chasing the relatively few tenuous, seasonal jobs that the agrofuels industry provides. The agrofuels trade thus places poor laborers at the bottom of an export-oriented value chain from which they cannot escape.
The main “benefit” of these destructive practices can be found in the bottom-lines of corporate earnings statements. The world can only consume so much food, but the global economy’s thirst for liquid fuels is limitless. Agrofuels thus provide agricultural corporations with an opportunity to squeeze more profit out of both the food and
energy markets. Financial institutions looking for solid ground in a stagnating economy have jumped into the fray, pouring billions of investment dollars and Euros into agrofuel corporations, fanning the flames, and causing further dislocation and destruction.
For those familiar with the history of Latin American agriculture this is a very old story cloaked in new “green” clothing. Agrofuels in the Americas exposes the myth, perpetuated by corporations, that we can save the planet through activities that spin off these tremendous environmental and social externalities.
Part One of Agrofuels in the Americas looks at the institutions, the political ideologies, and the economic agendas backing agrofuels; as well as the difficulties encountered by those trying to stem the worst effects of the industry.
Part Two looks at the social and ecological consequences.
Part Three provides a glimpse of the next wave of this agrofuels
phenomenon—as invasive bioengineered crops and wholly-synthetic organisms are set to task in fields and forests around the world—all in the name of “saving the planet.”