According to the latest analysis from Oxfam, the European targets that are currently in place to replace fossil fuel with biofuels are contributory factors to the spikes in price of food and adding to the global hunger problem. The global aid organisation has called for the EU energy ministers, who are meeting this week in Cyprus, to scrap the mandates that commits each member state to source 10% of their transport energy from renewable sources by the year 2020.
They have calculated that the land which is needed to meet the mandates for biofuels to run cars in Europe for one year could be used to feed 127m people. Only last week a draft proposal was leak suggesting that the European Commission was actually considering capping the biofuel mandates at 5% before 2020, in recognition of the fears that they are competing against food production and have turned out to be less eco-friendly than was first thought. Aid agencies, however, have said this isn’t enough, and want them scrapped altogether.
It was back in 2009 that biofuel targets were introduced to help in the fight against climate change, but they have become increasingly controversial over time. In Europe, the targets are to be met almost completely from the food crops that currently sit at a record high price wise. According to the FAO, corn and soy prices hit their all time high level in July, whilst vegetable oil and cereals remained at their peak levels in August.
The contribution that biofuel targets are making toward global warming has also been brought into question, as the demand for crops to use as biofuels is pushing the production of agriculture into forests, grasslands and peatlands, areas that had previously been serving as carbon sinks. Key figures from industry have added their voices to the concerns that diverting crops for fuel to run cars could bring about a global food crisis.