Biofuels threaten rainforests as important European Commission decision lies ahead
Action Alert from
by Dr. Glenn Barry
October 1, 2005

Dr. Glenn Barry, the activist behind and ClimateArk, sent out an Action Alert calling for the European Commission to reject a plan to use biofuels that contribute to rainforest destruction, notably palm oil and soybean oil. His message, displayed below, asks for readers to send an email message to the Director General of Energy and Transport for the European Commission.

Europe's rush to oil palm and soya biomass as source of renewable energy misguided and unsustainable

To meet Kyoto protocol commitments, various European and other governments are encouraging the use of biomass as fuel (biofuel) in transport and electricity. Biofuels are mostly carbon neutral, and switching from fossil fuels to biodiesel is promoted as a solution to climate change.

Rainforests will be threatened by increased demand for agricultural products to be raised on once forested lands, and by use of forest biomass as a fuel. An unregulated rush to biofuels will lead to more natural rainforest loss and fragmentation, increased pressures upon endangered primary forests, and more monoculture, herbicide laden and genetically modified tree plantations.

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China funds massive palm oil plantation in rainforest of Borneo August 12, 2005
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Brazil's growth as agricultural giant has cost -- LA Times August 22, 2005
The Los Angeles Times featured an article on Brazil's drive to become an agricultural giant. The country's breakneck growth has made it the world's biggest exporter of many agricultural products, but at a cost: some of Brazil's richest ecological areas have been plowed under for crops. Brazil has the highest biological diversity of any country on Earth.

Two important tropical crops suitable as biofuels include palm oil, grown mostly in Southeast Asia, and soya oil largely from South America. Both are already amongst the world's major causes of tropical forest destruction and further stimulation of their markets will surely result in massive and irreversible new losses of tropical rainforests and savannas. Largely to meet demand for biofuel, the Indonesian government announced in July 2005 the development of the largest palm oil plantation in the world which will clear the "Heart of Borneo". This will further deteriorate ecosystems that provide habitats for the already endangered Orang Utan and many other species.

There exists an opportunity to influence European imports of oil palm in particular, as the European Commission is currently studying the matter. Clearly Europe and world should invest more strongly in energy from wind and sun, not in carelessly creating, stimulating and subsidizing new international palm oil and soya export markets.

Western countries must do better than destroying tropical rainforests to meet their Kyoto goals. Take action now at:

This is a modified release from The original version appears at

by Dr. Glenn Barry (October 01, 2005).

Biofuels threaten rainforests as important European Commission decision lies ahead.