Europe urged to scrap biofuel targets to ease food crisis

2 June 2008

Brussels, 2 June 2008 - Using crops to make biofuels is contributing to the global food crisis and will lead to millions of people going hungry, warn international development and environment groups today. The statement is made in a letter to the European Commission and EU Heads of State urging them to abandon the proposed 10 per cent target for the use of biofuels in transport and to dismantle associated support measures. [1] The call comes a day before a major United Nations conference on food security in Rome.

The organisations are highly critical of the stance of the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, for denying that the EU's continuing support for biofuels is contributing to food price rises and food shortages around the world. The groups note that:

* Current analysis estimates that biofuels - mainly being promoted by the EU and US - explain around 30 per cent of the increase in food prices. [2]
* The EU is the biggest user and producer of biodiesel in the world and the Commission's own scientists state that implementing the new target will need nearly 20 per cent of the world's vegetable oils.
* The much-flaunted 'sustainability' criteria being developed by the EU do not take into account knock-on effects such as rising food prices and increased hunger.
* The Commission's conservative estimate that the EU 10 per cent target will lead to a 3-6 per cent price increase in cereals could result in up to 100 million extra people in hunger by 2020.

Rob Bailey, Policy Advisor of Oxfam International said: "To continue the pursuit of biofuels in the face of the credible, impartial and growing opinion that this is exacerbating the food crisis is morally outrageous and utterly indefensible."

Friends of the Earth Europe agrofuels campaigner Adrian Bebb said, "Biofuels are a false answer to our climate and energy problems. It is morally irresponsible to use crops to feed cars whilst people go hungry. The European Union must abandon it support for biofuels and invest in real solutions such as cleaner cars and an energy efficient Europe."




[1] The letter can be downloaded here.

The 31 co-signing organisations include: Friend of the Earth Europe, Oxfam International, World Vision International, Bread for the World, CARE International, Cordaid, FIAN International, MISEREOR, Natuur en Milieu, Practical Action, SWISSAID, Save Our Borneo, AEFJN (Africa- Europe Faith & Justice Network), Agrarbuendnis Oesterreich, Both ENDS, Climate Alliance, CORE (Centre for Organisation Research & Education), Corporate Europe Observatory, Down to Earth - the International Campaign for Ecological Justice in Indonesia (UK), Fair-fish, FERN, Sahabat Alam Malaysia, GM-Free Ireland Network, Global Forest Coalition, KoBra (Kooperation Brasilien), Nature Alert (UK), The Centre for Orangutan Protection (Indonesia), Plataforma Transgenicos (Pt), Pro REGENWALD, Quercus - Associa�ao National de Conserva�ao da Natureza, Rettet den Regenwald.

[2] The IMF has commented that increasing demand for biofuels explains '20 to 30 per cent' of recent food price increases. This is corroborated by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) which puts the contribution of biofuels to the crisis at 30 per cent.