Medvedev slams biofuel producers at grain summit

June 6, 2009
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks during the World Grain Forum in St. Petersburg. Medvedev on Saturday urged countries to switch to non-food sources of biofuel to prevent the spread of hunger in a world where every sixth person is malnourished.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday urged countries to switch to non-food sources of biofuel to prevent the spread of hunger in a world where every sixth person is malnourished.

"We are advocating production of from other, non-food sources," Medvedev said in a speech inaugurating the launch of a global grain summit in his native Saint Petersburg.

"The development of bioenergy should not become a reason for a growing deficit of grain for food needs," he said, adding there were countries that still did not realize the importance of eradicating hunger.

His comments appeared to be a thinly veiled attack on the United States, Brazil and the European Union which are among the leading producers of biofuel.

"Many today have simply resigned themselves to the fact that a child dies from hunger every five seconds in the world," Medvedev said.

Starvation in a world where nearly one billion people go hungry is "the most difficult trial for mankind," Medvedev said, expressing hope that the grain summit attended by top food officials would help tackle the problem.

Medvedev first proposed holding the grain summit during a Group of Eight summit in Toyako, Japan last year.

Medvedev said Russia was concerned about an imbalance between grain supply and demand, adding nations should agree on mechanisms to keep this in check and set up an "early warning" system to monitor grain markets in the future.

"We intend to strengthen positions on the world grain market (and) support this direction both financially and organizationally," he said.

Russia now is getting ready to begin cultivation of 20 million hectares (49.5 million acres) of farmland that have not been used since the start of market reforms in the 1990s, he added.

The head of Russia's largest lender Sberbank, German Gref, who took the floor after Medvedev, said food security issues were "more important than currency problems."

The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says the number of starving people in the world will increase drastically because of the economic crisis.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Russian Space Center To Complete Third Orbital Module

Related Stories

Russian Space Center To Complete Third Orbital Module

July 1, 2005

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) has allocated money to the Khrunichev Space Center to complete the construction of a multipurpose research module (MRM) for the International Space Station (ISS), the center's ...

Three billion Asians face food crisis threat: research

October 28, 2008

( -- The escalating cost of rice and other foodstuffs across Asia could cause the reversal of policy reforms, social unrest and deepening poverty for over 3 billion Asians – according to new research.

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.3 / 5 (4) Jun 06, 2009

Spoken like a true oil man that he, Russia is. He just doesn't like the oil competition. In the US 9% of our auto fuel is ethanol which cuts into his profits.
People starve like so many in Russia do, because of political reasons, not lack of world food supply.
Why food prices went up last yr was from higher oil prices and speculators in the grain markets. But the whole time there was plenty of grain despite crop failures in Aus Argentina.
And if he was so concerned, why hasn't Russia revived all those acres a long time ago. He's been VP for yrs before being President.
Another thing that should be done to stabilize food prices is a .25% tax on every commodity, stock, money market, ect transaction in the world would stop most speculation in all of them.
3 / 5 (2) Jun 06, 2009
With Hyundia and other multinationals buying thousands of hectares of Russia's prime farm land, with major Russian oligarchs owning millions more, Mr. Medvedev might do well to tend his own garden.
1.7 / 5 (3) Jun 06, 2009
Russia is quite likely post-peak on oil but not on natural gas. Fossil fuel interests in Russia would probably support a biodiesel industry since they're big consumers of natural gas, directly(drying, distillation etc.) and indirectly(ammonia).
5 / 5 (1) Jun 09, 2009
You think oil companies care about corn or other food based ethanol? They use more oil and energy than gasoline. In fact it would be in Medevev favour to promote it. Increasing food prices and oil scarcity would be a boon for Russia. Just because it's coming out of the mouth of someone you perceive to be bias, doesn't mean what he's saying isn't true.
1 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2009
They use more oil and energy than gasoline. In fact it would be in Medevev favour to promote it.

Food production uses vastly more natural gas than oil.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.