Some environmentalists agree with Castro but often the critique of ethanol use especially made from corn is that net energy gain may be small or even negative. It is not clear how in the US using corn for ethanol displaces corn grown to feed the worlds poor and makes their situation worth. Unless the US govt. subsidizes corn production to feed the worlds poor it would not be produced for their consumption anyway. Strangely enough Bush does not even mention the subsidies that the huge grain companies such as ADM get from US agricultural policy. I have also posted a couple of other articles on this issue to complement this one.
From Monsters and Critics.com
Castro ends 8-month silence to slam US ethanol plans (2nd Roundup)
Mar 29, 2007, 19:59 GMT
Havana - Ending eight months of silence, ailing Cuban President Fidel
Castro published an article in Cuban state media Thursday criticizing
US environmental policies, and in particular plans to boost the use of
'The sinister idea of converting food into fuel has definitely been
established as an economic lineament in US foreign policy,' the Cuban
leader wrote, arguing that US President George W Bush's support for
using crops to produce ethanol for automobiles in rich nations could
deplete food stocks in developing countries.
The article published in the Cuban Communist Party daily Granma was
the first attempt by Castro, 80, who is recovering from intestinal
surgery, to comment on international issues since he was taken ill in
July 2006 and handed over power to his younger brother Raul.
Fidel Castro has only been seen in half a dozen videos and several
pictures since the surgery, the last ones published in March where he
appeared with Colombian Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
'More than 3 billion people in the world condemned to premature death
by hunger and thirst,' read the headline of Castro's article.
Castro's health has been treated as a state secret in Cuba, which has
not revealed the exact cause of his illness. Over the past months,
rumours of the imminent death of the Cuban leader have been strongly
denied by the authorities. However, over the last few weeks the
expectation of his return has increased, owing to several hints by
Cuban and international officials.
A few weeks ago, Bolivian President Evo Morales announced the
possibility of that Castro would appear publicly on April 28. This
would mark the first anniversary of Bolivia's joining the Alternativa
Bolivariana para las Americas (ALBA), the Cuban and Venezuelan
alternative to the US-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas
Cuba has not yet confirmed Castro's appearance. The island is entering
its ninth month without its socialist leader of almost half a century.
In the article, Castro warned that the plans to convert products like
corn, sugar cane or soy into ethanol for use as fuel additives could
cause serious ecological damage and would adversely affect the third
Castro referred to a meeting Bush had Monday with leading US
automotive groups, in which he urged them to double the number of
vehicles fuelled by alternative combustibles such as ethanol, in an
attempt to combat climate change and US dependence on oil.
'I think that reducing and recycling all the electricity and
combustible consuming motors is an elemental and urgent necessity for
all humanity. The tragedy does not consist in reducing the costs of
energy, but in the idea of converting food into combustibles,' Castro
said in the article.
Bush strongly promoted the production and use of biofuels in Latin
American countries in a regional tour earlier this month, with
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva as his main ally. The US
and Brazil together produce around 72 per cent of the world's ethanol.
Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said he 'respects' the Cuban
leader but defended the position of Lula's leftist government.
'I think everyone is free to express their opinion. But I do not think
that was meant against the Brazilian government or Brazil. Our opinion
on ethanol is that ethanol's success has been proved in practice,' he
Amorim pointed out that Brazil produces ethanol from sugar cane, while
the United States uses less energy-efficient corn.
'Brazil is today looked at as almost an object of pilgrimage, or a
Mecca - to use two different religious examples - by all developed or
developing countries, who come to seek in ethanol and (other) biofuels
a way out of energy problems, not to remain totally dependent on oil.
Everyone knows that oil is going to run out,' the minister said.
According to the Cuban leader, even if the US dedicated its entire
corn production to the production of ethanol, there still would not be
enough ethanol for its fuel needs.
'If you apply this recipe in Third World countries, you'll see how
many people of the hungry masses of our planet will stop eating corn.
Or even worse: finance poor countries to produce ethanol from corn and
there won't even be one tree to defend humanity of the climate
change,' Castro wrote.
The Cuban president said instead of these policies, countries should
concentrate on other ways of saving energy, as Cuba does.
'All the countries in the world, poor and rich, could save millions
and millions of dollars just by changing all incandescent light bulbs
into fluorescent ones, something Cuba has been doing in all homes.
That would give climate change a break without starving the poor
masses of the world,' said Castro, who in the past few years has made
ecology one of his major interests.
(c) 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
(c) Copyright 2006,2007 by monstersandcritics.com.