“As more and more food is used to fuel cars, it is increasingly clear that biofuel use in the world’s richest countries, including G8 nations, is contributing to global food price rises and world hunger.”
ActionAid and other charities are meeting in the UK in June during the G8 summit, where they will ask David Cameron to take the lead in ending policies which use food for fuel. According to the group, 441 million people could be fed each year with the amount of food crops that are consumed as fuel by the G8 nations. As you can see in the chart, the U.S. is the culprit responsible for 76 percent of the G8’s farmland being diverted to fuel.
An important aspect of the trend is that in sub-Saharan Africa, six million hectares of land are now under the control of European companies planning to make money from Europe’s biofuel policies. The biggest investors of biofuels in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) are from the UK (30 projects), Italy (18) and Germany (8).
HIGH FOOD PRICES
According to a report prepared for the G20 group of the world’s leading nations by the World Bank, the OECD, WTO, IFPRI, IMF and five UN agencies,“food prices are substantially higher than they would be if no biofuels were produced”.
Meanwhile a group of UN experts on food and agriculture has concluded that “the rise in prices largely reflects the difficulty that supply has had in keeping up with demand, and because the rise in biofuels has greatly increased the scope and rate of that rise in demand, it has played a predominant role in driving up prices”.
As an example, 65% of all EU vegetable oil – mainly oil seed rape – now goes to biofuels.
By 2020 EU biofuel targets could push up the agricultural price of vegetable oils by as much as 36%, cereals by as much as 22% and oilseeds by as much as 20%.
The report concludes that in addition to the negative impacts from biofuels of world hunger and land use, there are negative climate impacts and higher fuel prices for motorists.
The only commentary that I might add to the ActionAid report is that biofuels are more economically motivated through politics than the report suggests, and didn’t just start out as a green movement.