CLIMATE CHANGE: Lula Calls for Flexibility from Rich Countries

Industrialised nations must live up to their Kyoto Protocol commitments and be flexible in trade negotiations in order for the world to make progress towards solutions to climate change and to prevent the poor from being steeped in poverty for a long time to come, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said Thursday.

Biofuels are a major driver of the sugar cane boom in Brazil. Credit: gomezzz

CLIMATE CHANGE: Biofuels Worse Than Fossil Fuels, Studies Find

Biofuels are making climate change worse, not better, according to two new studies which found that total greenhouse gas emissions from biofuels are far higher than those from burning gasoline because biofuel production is pushing up food prices and resulting in deforestation and loss of grasslands.

ENVIRONMENT: Record Financing For Biofuels, Not Food

Biofuels have quickly turned from environmental saviour to just another mega-scale get-rich quick scheme. Countries and regions without their own oil reserves to tap now see their farms, peatlands and forests as potential "oil fields" - shallow but renewable lakes of green oil.

EL SALVADOR: Benefits of Free Trade Deal Still Remote

The Salvadoran government had proclaimed that from the moment of its entry into force, the free trade agreement with the United States would boost the local economy, creating thousands of jobs, so that even street vendors would be exporting their typical snacks. But nearly two years later, the economic paradise has yet to arrive.

WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM: The Public Eye Is Watching

Civil society is in Davos, Switzerland once again to keep a watchful eye on events at the World Economic Forum (WEF). The social and environmental behaviour of 1,000 of the world’s most powerful companies will be scutinised at this annual meeting of business leaders, presidents and prime ministers, and free-market economics experts.

The Nano is billed as the world&#39s cheapest car.  Credit: Tata Motors

INDIA: &#39World&#39s Cheapest Car Environmentally Costly&#39

Nothing has generated as much hyperbole in the global automobile industry in recent years as the unveiling, last week, of an ultra-cheap bare-bones car made by the Tatas, India’s steel and engineering giant.

BRAZIL: Land Shortage Provokes Murders of Indigenous People

At least 76 indigenous people were murdered in Brazil in 2007, 58 percent more than in 2006. The killings increased the most in the west-central state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where the Guaraní people are confined to territories too small for them to maintain their traditional way of life.

ARGENTINA: Dairy Farmers Aggrieved, Despite High Prices

Dairy farmers in Argentina have led the latest in a long series of protests by agricultural associations, despite the record high prices for farm products.

MEXICO: Is the Freeing Up of Agricultural Trade Really New?

The elimination of all barriers to imported maize under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will ruin Mexico’s rural areas, according to activists and small farmers who are demanding that the measure be revoked. But the free market which opened on Jan. 1 has in fact been in effect for the past nine years.

CHALLENGES 2007-2008: Cuban Economy in Need of Nourishment

Increasing food production is the main challenge to be faced by the Cuban economy this year, to improve people’s quality of life. It was one of the recurrent themes raised at the popular debates convened on the government’s initiative in the second half of 2007.

EU-CARIBBEAN: New EPA Sets Timeline For Trade Liberalisation

Come Jan.1 a new trade and aid pact between fifteen Caribbean nations and the 27 members of the European Union (EU) kicks into force heralding in a new era in relations between the two trade blocs that will be based largely on reciprocity rather than protected trade, as has been the case for centuries.

CHALLENGES 2007-2008: Lowering Mexico’s Drawbridge to US Maize and Beans

On Jan. 1, the Mexican market will be thrown wide open to imports of maize, beans, powdered milk and sugar from the United States, completing a process that began 14 years ago, in which its impoverished rural sector must compete with a powerful and heavily subsidised foreign rival.

ENERGY-SOUTH AFRICA: Food Security Hobbles Biofuel Strategy

Worried that it may be seen as insensitive to the food needs of Africa, the South African government, which is facing a general election in 2009, has chosen food security in framing a biofuel policy.

ENVIRONMENT: For Troubled Fishing Industry, Less Is More

Catch less fish. Make more money. Could this be the solution to the global overfishing crisis?

CLIMATE CHANGE: Forests Could Cool or Cook the Planet

A two-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures could flip the Amazon forest from being the Earth's vital air conditioner to a flamethrower that cooks the planet, warns a new report released at the climate talks in Bali, Indonesia Friday.

ENERGY: Nascent Biofuel Market Has Birth Defects

The development of an international market for crop-based fuels could reduce climate changing gas emissions and mitigate the inflationary impacts of the current euphoria surrounding this energy alternative, but it is a process that will take years.

Man working a rice field in Bangladesh. Credit: USAID

DEVELOPMENT: Food Prices Climbing, With No End in Sight

Globalisation, climate change, and the mass production of biofuels are pushing up food prices worldwide, which could jeopardise the livelihoods of the world's poorest, according to a report released Tuesday by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

TRADE: Subsidies Reform Still a Game of "You First"

Back in 2001, the European Union committed itself to phasing out all forms of subsidies that help its farmers sell food abroad.

Marcos Jank Credit: Courtesy of UNICA

Q&A: The Senselessness of Tax-Free Oil and Subsidised Ethanol

Protectionist measures for renewable fuels are unacceptable while trade in polluting and costly fossil fuels is completely free, says Marcos Sawaya Jank, president of an organisation representing the most competitive producers of sugar and ethanol in the world, in this interview with Mario Osava.

TRADE: EU Set to Milk East Africa With Subsidised Goods?

‘‘Dairy farmers in Kenya are doing well now,’’ says Peter Wanyeki, as he flashes a big smile. ‘‘Before, when we went home to the village, you could never take enough money with you. Everybody was poor. But now the situation is different. The dairy farmers are rich because they are getting a very good price for their milk.’’

AGRICULTURE: Costly Prosperity

Many of the people who are now complaining that biofuels are driving up agricultural prices fought in the past against the "deterioration of the terms of exchange," or the devaluation of commodities with respect to manufactured goods, as a key factor in underdevelopment.

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