The UK government has urged "caution" on increasing the production of biofuels after a report claimed that the alternative fuel sources do contribute to rising food prices.
 
In the wake of the report, published yesterday (7 July) by the independent UK Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA), the UK said it would consult on the possibility of slowing down the production of biofuels.
 
The UK government said it would press for the EU's target of 10% renewable transport fuels by 2020 to be kept under "regular review" but stopped short of calling for a moratorium on their production.
 
UK Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the planet needed to break its dependence on oil but should not push forward "indiscriminately" on biofuels.
 
"We need to proceed more cautiously than previously thought, but we should not give up on the potential for some biofuels to help us tackle climate change now and in the future," Benn said.
 
"This isn't just about our own targets here in the UK - we will be pressing hard in Europe to ensure that any future EU biofuels targets are also conditional on strong sustainability criteria which include the indirect impacts of producing them."
 
The report, written by Professor Ed Gallagher of the RFA, was less damning than the reported findings of a study by the World Bank, which claimed biofuels had driven up food prices by 75%.
 
However, the Gallagher report said that increasing biofuels production had pushed up the prices of some commodities, particularly oilseeds.
 
"Lower targets and shifting production for biofuels away from agricultural land used for food production should reduce price rises on affected food commodities," the report said.
 
The US and EU have been firm supporters of biofuels and have laid down strict targets on their production.
 
However, sections of the food industry, particularly the meat sector, have been very vocal in their criticism of biofuels, arguing they have contributed to soaring commodity prices.