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UN Expert Says Biofuels Are Like Blood Diamonds, Myanmar and Forced Labor, Antitrust is Needed

Byline: Matthew Russell Lee of Inner City Press at the UN: News Analysis

UNITED NATIONS, October 27 -- The current UN rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, on Monday called for a break-up of agribusiness conglomerates and for imposition of  blood diamond-like restrictions on the sale of biofuels. Despite the sweeping nature of these recommendations, when Inner City Press asked him about the work of Jean Ziegler, his predecessor, de Schutter called Ziegler's positions "polemical, shall we say." Ziegler called biofuels a "crime against humanity." De Schutter says they do not help the environmental, and need to be restricted. As one wag put it, de Schutter is a Ziegler with a more erudite vocabulary.

   Inner City Press asked de Schutter about food for work programs, particularly in Myanmar.  While de Schutter called such conditional aid defensible in some circumstances -- he mentioned India, a country he also spoke about in May -- he said that "Burma has a serious history of forced labor and servitude" and that he would look into any complaints of such food for work schemes in that country. Video here, from Minute 43.

De Schutter at UN:  Burma follow-through not yet shown

   Noting that his report mentions a need for more antitrust enforcement, Inner City Press asked if this should be directed at mergers or the deconstruction of existing conglomerates, with Cargill and ADM in mind.  De Schutter went further, talking about the vertical integration of the seeds, fertilizer and pesticide product markets. It should be noted that the UN invited Monsanto to an event about solving the food pricing crisis.

  Inner City Press asked de Schutter, with cameras rolling, about General Assembly president Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann having named him a senior special advisor. De Schutter said he was honored, and would meet with d'Escoto the next day. Inner City Press asked, when did he offer you the post? August 29, de Schutter answered.

  Afterwards, when Inner City Press asked if he knows Canadian Maude Barlow, another of d'Escoto's advisors, on water, de Schutter said he didn't. He will be traveling to Ottawa and Montreal soon.  Asked about another fellow advisor to d'Escoto, Ramsey Clark, de Schutter did not reply. We aim to report on what he does about Myanmar.
   Watch this site, and this Oct. 2 debate, on UN, bailout, MDGs

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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Other, earlier Inner City Press are listed here, and some are available in the ProQuest service, and now on Lexis-Nexis.

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