• Apr 5, 2011
U.S. and European policies, which call for increased production of ethanol and other biofuels to displace fossil fuels and possibly reduce global warming, could result in more deaths and diseases worldwide. Counter-intuitive, no? Well, according to a release from the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS), here's why making more biofuels may be detrimental to our health:
Increased production of biofuels increases the price of food worldwide by diverting crops and cropland from feeding people to feeding motor vehicles. Higher food prices, in turn, condemn more people to chronic hunger and "absolute poverty" (defined as income less than $1.25 per day). But hunger and poverty are leading causes of premature death and excess disease worldwide. Therefore, higher biofuel production would increase death and disease.
The AAPS points to research conducted by the World Bank that indicates that increases in biofuel production from 2004 to 2010 has already pushed more than 35 million people into absolute poverty in third-world countries. Using statistics from the World Health Organization, Dr. Indur Goklany, a science and technology policy analyst for the U.S. Department of the Interior, estimates that the increased amount of people living in absolute poverty has led to at least 192,000 additional deaths per year. Goklany claims that death and disease from poverty are proven, whereas the loss of life and illnesses linked directly to global warming are hypothetical.

[Source: Association of American Physicians and Surgeons | Image: Agência Brasil – Wikimedia Commons]
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Biofuels Policy May Kill 200,000 Per Year in the Third World

TUCSON, Ariz., March 28, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. and European policy to increase production of ethanol and other biofuels to displace fossil fuels is supposed to help human health by reducing "global warming." Instead it has added to the global burden of death and disease.

Increased production of biofuels increases the price of food worldwide by diverting crops and cropland from feeding people to feeding motor vehicles. Higher food prices, in turn, condemn more people to chronic hunger and "absolute poverty" (defined as income less than $1.25 per day). But hunger and poverty are leading causes of premature death and excess disease worldwide. Therefore, higher biofuel production would increase death and disease.

Research by the World Bank indicates that the increase in biofuels production over 2004 levels would push more than 35 million additional people into absolute poverty in 2010 in developing countries. Using statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Indur Goklany estimates that this would lead to at least 192,000 excess deaths per year, plus disease resulting in the loss of 6.7 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) per year. These exceed the estimated annual toll of 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs that the World Health Organization attributes to global warming. Thus, developed world policies intended to mitigate global warming probably have increased death and disease in developing countries rather than reducing them. Goklany also notes that death and disease from poverty are a fact, whereas death and disease from global warming are hypothetical.

Thus, the biofuel remedy for global warming may be worse than the disease it purports to alleviate.

Goklany was associated with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) off and on over a 20-year period as an author, expert reviewer, and U.S. delegate. His analysis is published in the spring 2011 issue of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (www.jpands.org/vol16no1/goklany.pdf), the official journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

AAPS is a national organization of physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943 to protect the practice of private medicine and the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship (www.aapsonline.org).


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