G8 Summit: ‘Biofuels not to blame for hunger’

Prime minister David Cameron must address the root cause of global hunger rather than blaming biofuels for the problem at the G8 Summit this week, said the UK biofuels supply chain.

EU bioethanol production accounted for only 3% of total cereal use in 2010-11 and only 2% of good quality arable land was used for biofuels, said Clare Wenner, head of renewable transport at the Renewable Energy Association.

“Without this demand and with no real export potential EU farmers would simply cut their production and the corresponding volumes of animal feed materials would need to be imported from overseas,” she said.

“Already more than two million hectares of good arable land is not in production in the EU and this area is growing every year.”

Problems with food availability and accessibility in developing countries were not caused by biofuels production, but rather a result of inadequacies of infrastructure, lack of education and knowledge on agricultural practices, trade disruptions due to closed borders, and a lack of income to buy food, said Ms Wenner.

“Already more than two million hectares of good arable land is not in production in the EU and this area is growing every year.”
Clare Wenner, Renewable Energy Association

The UK biofuels market had enabled farmers to invest in greater productivity and sustainable agricultural practices, she added.

“Crop-based biofuel production is not only an essential part of meeting our renewable transport fuel targets, it also provides valuable high protein feed co-products for the livestock sector, as well as rotational benefits, essentially for increasing food production and protecting soil quality,” said Ms Wenner.

The EU had a structural protein deficiency for livestock feed and was dependent on imports of protein crops and meals from overseas, she added.

“The European Parliament estimates this shortfall at 20m tonnes, while the UK imports 80% of its protein requirements. A sustainable biofuels industry plays an important role in narrowing this deficit.”

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