Comestibles ou combustibles ?

Lors de sa récente visite en Antarctique, Ban Ki-moon, Secrétaire Général des Nations Unies, a été frappé par la fonte des glaces. Par la suite, il s’est rendu au Brésil où il a été impressionné par le fait qu’un quart du trafic automobile du pays soit alimenté par les biocarburants. En effet, l’huile de pépin de raisin sert de substitut au gazole et l’éthanol issu du maïs et de la betterave à sucre remplace l’essence.

Les Nations Unies et bon nombre de pays partagent officiellement l’avis que les biocarburants sont l’un des atouts de la lutte contre le réchauffement climatique. Les Etats-Unis subventionnent généreusement la production d’éthanol à partir du maïs : l’augmentation annuelle des rendements y est actuellement de 12 %, contre près de 10 % dans le reste du monde. En 2006, les pays de l’Union européenne ont financé la production de biocarburants à hauteur de 3,7 milliards d’EUR en 2006, dans le but que 8 % des carburants automobiles proviennent de sources biologiques d’ici 2015 et 20 % d’ici 2020. Le Protocole de Kyoto prévoit que les pays atteignent leurs objectifs en matière de réduction d’émissions de CO2, en remplaçant les combustibles fossiles par des biocarburants.

Toutefois, est-il vraiment sage et acceptable d’un point de vue éthique de brûler les denrées plutôt que les destiner à l’alimentation ? Si nous permettons qu’elles servent à la production de biocarburants, le prix des aliments dépendra alors de celui du pétrole, comme l’a joyeusement annoncé le responsable de l’Association des agriculteurs allemands. En effet, le prix des denrées alimentaires connaît une hausse en Europe, étant donné que les terres agricoles sont de plus en plus consacrées à la production de biocarburants plutôt que de nourriture.

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