A recent independent review of biofuels has found production of this
alternative energy source has contributed to a global rise in the price
of food. It also says biofuels could actually increase the very
greenhouse gases they seek to reduce. As Tendai Maphosa reports from
London this is just one of the many reports expressing concern and
calling for a review of the biofuel issue.
review, commissioned by the British government, concludes that Britain
should not abandon biofuels, but should slow down its production and
use. The study advises a more cautious approach until international
policies are put in place.
Critics argue rainforests and parts
of the developing world may be affected adversely by land being turned
over from food production to growing energy crops.
government has accepted the report's recommendations. Transport
Secretary Ruth Kelly addressed parliament on its findings.
Gallagher also concludes that there is a risk that the uncontrolled
expansion and use of biofuels could lead to unsustainable changes in
land use such as the destruction of the rain forest to make way for the
production of crops," she said. "This might in turn actually increase
greenhouse gas emissions as well as contribute to higher food prices
The report rejects calls for a moratorium saying
that such a halt would reduce the ability of the biofuels industry to
invest in new, improved technologies. Also, it adds, a moratorium would
make it significantly more difficult for the longer-term potential of
biofuels to be realized.
The anti-poverty agency Action Aid is
one organization calling for a moratorium. In a recent hard hitting
report entitled "Cereal Offenders" the group says biofuels have pushed
food prices up by 30 percent. It calls for a five-year moratorium; an
end to subsidies to those growing crops for fuel and a scaling up of
other alternative energy sources.
Action Aid spokeswoman for
biofuels, Claire Melamed tells VOA while the agency welcomes the
Gallagher report's call for caution it is disappointed.
were hoping for a stronger response given that weight of evidence that
we think should happen is we should stop producing biofuels now and
have a complete rethink about how where and if we can produce biofuels
that will help to reduce greenhouse gases without making hundreds of
millions of people hungry," she said.
Britain has agreed to a
European Union ruling that calls for all gasoline and diesel sold in
the country to have a five percent biofuel content by 2010, rising to
10 percent by 2020. To this end, starting this year 2.5 percent of all
gasoline and diesel fuel sold in Britain is now derived from crops.
However, Transportation Secretary Ruth Kelly said because of the
Gallagher findings, the targets are now under review.
to Ferran Tarradellas, an EU spokesman for Energy. He argued that there
is no evidence linking biofuels to the high food prices.
see which is the commodity which price has the most, this commodity is
rice and there is not a single drop of biofuel produced out of rice,"
said Tarradellas. "We have calculated that to reach our ten percent
target, we will need four million tons of agricultural commodities per
year in the next years until 2020, the global market for cereals is 2,200 million tons so I don't see how four million tons
could have any impact whatsoever."
Biofuels are mainly produced from food crops such as corn, sugar cane and vegetable oils.
this month the Guardian daily newspaper, quoting a confidential World
Bank report, reported that biofuels have forced global food prices up
by as much as 75 percent. The report, the Guardian says, is based on
what it called the most detailed analysis of the crisis so far, carried
out by an internationally respected economist at the global financial
The EU's Tarradellas says he has a copy of the World Bank report, but says the Guardian misrepresented the facts.
climate change and global food prices have all been on the agenda at
the G8 summit in Japan. At the summit, World Bank President Robert
Zoelick said biofuels had contributed to food price rises. He
specifically singled out fuels made from corn and rapeseed produced in
the United States and the EU.