Saturday, April 2, 2011

Paper: Biofuel policies led to 192,000 deaths & increased disease in developing countries

Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries?

Indur M. Goklany, Ph.D.

ABSTRACT: Higher global demand for biofuels, driven mainly by policies in industrialized countries  with the stated  purpose  of enhancing energy independence and retarding  climate change, has contributed to rising global food prices. As a consequence, more people in developing countries suffer from both chronic hunger and absolute  poverty. Hunger and poverty are major contributors to death  and disease in poorer  countries. Results derived from World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO) studies suggest  that for every million people  living in absolute poverty in developing countries, there are annually at least 5,270 deaths and 183,000 Disability-Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) lost to disease.  Combining  these   estimates   with  estimates   of  the increase in poverty owing to growth in biofuels production over 2004 levels leads to the conclusion that additional biofuel production may have resulted in at least 192,000 excess deaths and  6.7 million additional  lost DALYs  in 2010. These exceed WHO’s estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths  and 5.4 million lost DALYs attributable to global warming. Thus, policies intended to mitigate global warming may actually have increased death and disease in developing countries.

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