Extend Senate Hearings on Biofuels Bill, say Groups Concerned with Role of Biofuels in Global Food Crisis



    OTTAWA, June 25 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, farm leaders and international
development groups raised alarm bells over biofuels at hearings of the Senate
Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources on Bill C-33.
    The government is expecting the Senate to adopt Bill C-33 before the
summer. Bill C-33 would amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act,
enabling the government to establish a mandatory 5% biofuels in gas for
transportation via regulation. Consequently, Senators are expediting hearings
on this bill and are returning to the Senate tomorrow to vote on Bill C-33,
despite reports that link biofuels to the growing global food crisis. The
House of Commons delayed adoption of Bill C-33 in part because of the
international controversy. As a result of these expedited Senate hearings,
many groups have not yet had a chance to appear before the Senate, including
Greenpeace and other environmental groups.
    "The global food crisis is directly linked to the production of biofuels
and it is critical that the Senate examine this connection more fully before
any decision on Bill C-33 is taken," said Pat Mooney, Executive Director of
ETC Group, one of the witnesses at this morning's hearings. Mooney, who
recently returned from the UN High-Level Conference on World Food Security,
said, "The Senate now has a weighty responsibility with tremendous global
implications, as governments around the world are being forced to reevaluate
their commitments to biofuel targets."
    The Conservative Government is promoting biofuels and Bill C-33 as a
positive step to secure markets and high grain prices for Canadian farmers who
face a serious income crisis, but Colleen Ross, Women's President of the
National Farmers Union told Senators today that, "The window for farmers to
make money from biofuels is small and will close fast. As usual, farmers will
be paying higher prices for farm inputs and the real cost of production will
eat into our profits."
    "Why should the Senate rush to adopt Bill C-33 to promote biofuels while
the rest of the world is having second thoughts about imposing specific
targets in gas for cars?" asked Eric Darier, Agriculture Campaigner for
Greenpeace Canada.
    "The Oxfam International report published today, 'Another Inconvenient
Truth,' shows why a blanket mandate for biofuels content in Canadian gasoline
would help drive food prices higher world-wide, pushing millions of people
further into poverty," said Mark Fried, Public Policy Coordinator for Oxfam
Canada. "Burning food in our cars while people go hungry is not good public
policy."
    Additionally, a highly critical report from the UK, to be released next
Monday, is expected to trigger reevaluation of the British government's
targets for biofuels.




For further information:

For further information: Pat Mooney, Executive Director, ETC Group,
cell: (613) 261-0688, office: (613) 241-2267; Colleen Ross, Women's President,
National Farmers Union, cell: (613) 213-1522; Eric Darier, Agriculture
Campaigner, Greenpeace Canada, cell: (514) 605-6497; Mark Fried, Public Policy
Coordinator, Oxfam Canada, cell: (613) 668-4801

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