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GJEP and GFC Launch Major New Report on Biofuels

For Immediate Release
December 5, 2007

Vermont Organization Launches Major New Report on Biofuels (Agrofuels) at UN Climate Conference in Indonesia

Anne Petermann, Global Justice Ecology Project, +62-813-389-18-437 (on site in Bali)
Dr. Rachel Smolker, Global Justice Ecology Project, 802-482-2689 (arrives back in Vermont this Friday)

Bali, Indonesia–Global Justice Ecology Project (GJEP), based in Hinesburg, VT held a press conference on Tuesday, December 4, launching a major new report entitled The True Cost of Agrofuels: Food, Forests and the Climate. The report, co-produced by Global Justice Ecology Project and Global Forest Coalition (GFC), details the impacts of the large-scale production of agrofuels on forests and indigenous peoples around the world.

Speakers at the press conference included:  Dr. Rachel Smolker, Global Justice Ecology Project Research Biologist, based in Hinesburg and lead author of the report; Victoria Taoli-Corpuz, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Abdon Nababan, Secretary-General of AMAN (Indonesia); and Dr. Miguel Lovera, Chair of the Global Forest Coalition. The press conference was chaired by Anne Petermann, Co-Director of Global Justice Ecology Project.

“In the course of writing this report, I have been shocked to find out, first of all how fast agrofuel projects are moving forward, but also how serious the impacts of agrofuels are,” explained Dr. Smolker.  “Not only are they leading to human rights abuses and leading to widespread destruction of forests, they are further contributing to global warming. They are a strategy that has absolutely failed,” she continued.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stated, “It is countries in the North that have caused the climate problem and now they are promoting projects like agrofuels to supposedly address this problem, the impacts of which will be shouldered by the countries and indigenous peoples of the South.”

VT Governor Douglas included biofuels as a key part of his global warming strategy.  He is specifically promoting cellulosic ethanol as a solution for Vermont.  The GJEP/GFC report that was launched Tuesday includes extensive documentation of the impacts of cellulosic ethanol technology, which includes genetic engineering as a key component.

Global Justice Ecology Project will be holding a side event with Global Forest Coalition tonight at the UN Climate Conference.  The side event is titled “Clashing Strategies: Promoting Agrofuels and Reducing Deforestation.”  It will address the fact that UN Promotion of agrofuels and carbon trade is fundamentally incompatible with the goal of protecting forests and indigenous people’s rights.

Related news for upcoming VT events this January:  In November of 2007, Global Justice Ecology Project, the Vermont Workers’ Center, and the Vermont chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War, initiated a “Call to Vermont Organizations” to participate in the worldwide mobilizations being called for January 26, 2008, around the theme of “Act Together for Another World.” The organizations are proposing the themes of war, healthcare and climate change for a united public demonstration because they believe these are the three largest issues facing Vermonters today.

Keeping in with the spirit of openness of the World Social Forum, which the call for mobilizations originated, these groups are encouraging other organizations to plan additional events and activities during the week of January 21-27 around the theme that “another world is possible.” Workshops, educational forums, direct actions, and social events are all encouraged.