European targets to replace conventional fuels with biofuels are contributing to the rise in food prices, putting millions under the risk of hunger, warns international aid agency Oxfam.
In a report out yesterday, The Hunger Grains, Oxfam claims that the land required to supply European cars with biofuels for just one year could produce enough wheat and maize to feed at least 127 million people.
Current European Union legislation requires that 10% of transport energy use should come from renewable sources by 2020, with most of that quote met through biofuels produced from food crops.
By 2020, this target could push up vegetable oil prices by up to 36%, maize 22%, sugar 21%, oilseeds 20% and wheat 13%, says Oxfam.
The targets could also be costing European consumers between €1.37 billion and €2.15 billion, working out at €30 per adult or £35 per UK consumer.
But the aid agency wants to see the European Commission overturn its targets, limiting the amount of biofuel produced from food crops that can count towards the target.
“The EU must recognise the devastating impact its biofuel policies are having on the poorest people through surging food prices, worsening hunger and contributing to climate change,” says Oxfam’s chief executive, Barbara Stocking.
The UK government, in particular, she says should put pressure on other EU governments to scrap the current policy and set new targets.
According to Oxfam, a document leaked to the press last week indicates that the European Commission is considering a draft legislative proposal that would limit the use of crop-derived biofuels.
“European governments and the European Commission must not cave in to pressure from the biofuels industry,” says a statement from the aid agency. “We cannot continue to burn food in our petrol tanks while poor families go hungry. Biofuels mandates must be dropped now and taken off the table for the future.”
For further information:
US Administration makes new investment in biofuel industry (4-Jul)
US could produce over one billion tons of biomass a year by 2030 (15-Aug 2011)
EC announces details of sustainable biofuel certification schemes (19-Jul 2011)
Green groups sue EC over ‘secrecy’ in biofuels policy (27-May 2011)
18 September 2012