Biofuel's Human Cost | National Union of Public and General Employees

Biofuel's Human Cost

As Brazilian sugar cane feeds the biofuel industry, it takes its toll on its labourers.


Cane cutters in Brazil suffer dismal labour conditions while lawyers and Amnesty International are fighting for there rights.

Workers lack breaks, a place to eat, proper toilets and suitable housing. This degrading treatment has resulted in 18 deaths from exhaustion in the last 4 years. These numbers don't include deaths from accidents, which are unnumbered and unrecorded.

Although slavery is not the norm, these cases have received headlines, while companies go unpunished. Most of the workers do receive pay, although it is insufficient. Access to quality food and accommodation is a problem, as well as the continual exposure to agro-toxins.

Brazilian officials have stepped up cases filed under anti-slavery statutes, laid fines and moved forward with prosecutions, with no results to date. With Brazilian sugar cane as one of the largest biofuel feedstock we can be sure that the social footprint of ethanol biofuel is large.