Fuelling destruction in Latin America: the real price of the drive for agrofuels

Rapid expansion in the use of agricultural crops as a transport fuel has been justified in Northern countries as a prodevelopment policy that will help bring developing countries out of poverty. The agrofuels boom, it is said, will increase agricultural production, generate foreign revenues through export, make countries less dependent on imports of fossil fuels, and drive much needed new investments in agriculture and rural communities. No other region has embraced this idea as much as Latin America, where countries have started expanding agriculture production and putting in place the infrastructure necessary to access and supply the European and USmarkets. Brazil has become one of themost vocal promoters of agrofuels. In order to deflect criticisms, these countries assure the North that there is enough land available for increased production, that the local population is actually benefiting and that the crops are being grown in a sustainable way.