Biofuels: Most Destructive Policy Mistake in a Generation - Nestle Chairman

The rush to biofuel is “madness” and possibly the most destructive set of policy blunders in a generation, Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck has said. He also labelled it a “craze” that has helped cause the current global food crisis.

Biofuels are also worsening the shortage of water in the world – a situation which the Nestle chief declared was more urgent than global warming. The only way to stop water from being “misused” was to impose “competitive pricing” on its major users- agricultural producers, he said.

Writing in the US media, Brabeck said activists campaigning against global warming were most to blame for the surge towards biofuel production that “has stimulated a massive, and destructive, reorientation of the world's agriculture markets”.

Brabeck reiterated that today’s global population of six billion would increase to nine billion by 2050 and that as more affluent societies in China and India demanded “more and wider varieties of food stuffs, competition for arable land is intensifying and freshwater withdrawals of agriculture are soaring”.

He added: “This could be the single most destructive set of policy mistakes made in a generation. From time immemorial, mankind has struggled to produce enough food. So why introduce a new competitor for this scarce resource? The blame falls squarely on global warming advocates.”

He questioned why politicians, business and academics were all trying to come to terms with global warming when its impact would “be felt in decades at worst, and no one at this stage can predict with any degree of reliability what its consequences might be.”

Brabeck dismissed biofuels as a viable solution, especially as they would not even meet a small percentage of global energy needs.

“Biofuels are economical nonsense, ecologically useless and ethically indefensible”, he said, before adding their production was also contributing to water shortages that were already “endemic”.

As well as increasing agricultural output, declared Brabeck, the other major challenge was to ensure responsible use of water.

“The real juggernaut is to encourage the responsible use of water. And the only way to do that is to introduce competitive pricing,” he said.

He added: “Water is being wasted and misused because few people are even aware of its worth. Today, 94% of available water is used by agriculture – and because there are no cost consequences for the farmer, almost all of that water is underused or misused.”

The Nestle Chairman dubbed the move to biofuel as a “craze, egged on by global warming activists" but said its effects could be partly offset by the efficient use of current resources.

“Right now, the urgent issue is water, not global warming, and we cannot afford to ignore it any longer,” he concluded.