John Vidal’s stunning piece on Guatemalan farmers reminds us of a sad truth: when we talk about “green fuel”, sometimes we forget the cost. Not that ethanol is all that green anyway.
But the unprecedented worldwide rush for land to grow food or fuel crops for the international market is now hitting some of the poorest communities hard, and leaving them at risk of violence and landlessness. Guatemala is now one of the world centres for growing biofuel crops.
The 2008 decision by EU countries to obtain 10% of all transport fuels from biofuels by 2020 has proved to be the catalyst for many evictions, says Oxfam. To meet the EU target, the total land area required to grow industrial biofuels in developing countries has been estimated as 17.5m hectares (43.2m acres), more than half the size of Italy.