Biofuel production is likely to make food more expensive and could endanger food security in developing countries, a group of UK politicians claimed today (21 January).

Biofuels are increasingly being seen as a green alternative to oil and governments in the US and Europe have encouraged production as part of wider environmental policies.

However, food crops are being used to produce biofuels and leading industry executives - including Nestlé CEO Peter Brabeck-Lemathe - have blamed their production for rising commodity costs over the last 12 months.

The EU has dismissed the link between biofuel production and higher food prices and has set a target for biofuels to cover 10% of EU fuel demand. The European Commission has also been drafting legislation that could force member states to increase biofuel production and consumption.

Today, however, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said there is likely to be a link between biofuels and rising food prices.

"A large biofuel industry based on current technology is likely to increase food prices and could damage food security in developing countries," the committee said in its report, Are biofuels sustainable?

The committee said the UK government and the EU should not have set targets on the increased use of biofuels and said their production could actually damage the environment.

The MPs called for a "moratorium" on setting targets for biofuel production and insisted that biofuels are "an expensive and ineffective way" to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from road transport - but at present most biofuels have a detrimental impact on the environment overall," said committee chairman Tim Yeo.

"The Government must ensure that its biofuels policy balances greenhouse gas emission cuts with wider environmental impacts, so that biofuels are only used where they contribute to sustainable emissions reductions.

"On the basis of current biofuel technology, more greenhouse gas cuts could be achieved at lower cost and risk by implementing a range of other policies."