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

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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.

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