Food crisis is "temporary", - Brazilian President

Business Materials 26 April 2008 00:37 (UTC +04:00)

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Friday that the current international food crisis is "temporary", dpa reported.

"What is happening in the world is that you have more poor people who eat. There are more Chinese, Indians, Africans, Brazilians who eat. And food production is not growing proportionately to demand. This crisis is temporary," Lula said.

Lula has been on a campaign for several weeks to defend the production of biofuel from charges that growing crops for fuel has caused soaring prices of food for humans - an issue that has become an international crisis.

But Lula also criticized the United States for insisting on the production of ethanol out of corn. Brazil produces its variant of the biofuel from more energy-efficient sugar cane. The two countries together produce over 70 per cent of the world's ethanol, and last year they signed an agreement to not only boost production of the alternative to oil and its derivatives but also promote its use worldwide.

"They want to make ethanol from corn. Corn is food for chicken and pigs. If is is animal food, it cannot be used to make fuel," Lula claimed.

Lula further disputed claims that Brazil is destroying parts of Amazonia to produce more sugar cane.

"When Brazil starts to compete with developed countries (for markets), some countries say sugar cane is produced in Amazonia. That is a blatant lie," he said.

He said Brazil was now producing 4.5 times more sugar cane per hectare than it was in 1975, when Brazil headed down the road that has given it fuel independence.

Lula complained that "none of those that criticize biofuels are criticizing oil."

"It is important to think of the impact of (the rise in) the price of oil on the transport and inputs of agricultural production," he stressed.