Europe’s food producers have warned key commodity prices could become unstable should the EU push ahead with plans to scrap policies promoting the production and use of key biofuels.
The European Commission has accepted scientific advice that palm oil, soybean and rapeseed-derived biodiesel generate as many carbon emissions as fossil fuels because the cultivation of their feedstocks promotes the clearance of virgin land, including rain forest.
The scrapping of duty reductions, subsidies and minimum biofuel content rules for blended fuels in the EU is likely to follow, depressing demand for biofuels, especially if the EU’s lead is followed elsewhere.
Pekka Pesonen, secretary general of European food producers organisation Copa-Cogeca, warned food prices could rise in Europe as farming is scaled back. “We feel it is highly dangerous to destroy one of our new economies [biofuels],” said Pesonen. “Worst case scenario, [food prices] might actually increase if you cut off 10-20% of production that is reserved for biofuels.”
Furthermore, should European oil seed production fall, the region would become more dependent on imports, causing potential supply problems given many of these commodities worldwide are GM and not welcome in the EU. “The consequences of such a change would be difficult,” Pesonen said.