The UK has warned Brussels that it will re-examine its support for EU-wide targets on biofuels amid growing concern over the impact on food prices.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday (22 April) met with food industry representatives, scientists and aid agencies to hear concerns that agricultural land is being used for biofuels at the expense of food production.
The EU wants 10% of all vehicle fuel in the EU to come from biofuels by 2020. The target is part of a wider directive for renewable energy sources to account for a fifth of all energy consumption by 2020.
Following the meeting, a joint statement was issued that said the UK would give more “selective” support for biofuels.
“We need to look closely at the impact on food prices and on the environment of different production methods and to ensure we are more selective in our support,” the statement said.
“If our UK review shows that we need to change our approach, we will also push for change in EU biofuels targets.”
Oxfam said it wants the UK government to “make genuine and concrete changes” to its biofuels policy.
“They could start by scrapping mandatory targets for biofuels, which are not only pushing up prices, but are linked to land-grabs and labour rights abuses in poor countries,” policy director Phil Bloomer said.
The meeting also examined the short- and long-term causes of food inflation and how the problem can be addressed.
It was agreed that an international strategy should be formulated at the G8 world trade discussions.
However, domestic price rises must also receive due consideration, the attendees said.
“We will work together to address domestic price rises. The Government has called on consumer groups, food producers, manufacturers and retailers to consider how we can collectively meet the challenges posed by the global food crisis.”