EU, US should abandon biofuels: UN rapporteur

Oct 17, 2012
The European Union and the United States should stop using biofuels as they are hampering food production, the UN's special rapporteur for the right to food Olivier De Schutter, pictured in 2009, told AFP on Wednesday.

The European Union and the United States should stop using biofuels as they are hampering food production, the UN's special rapporteur for the right to food Olivier De Schutter told AFP on Wednesday.

"Europe has to do more than lower its targets for production of biofuels as it is planning. It has to have the political courage to abandon them and the United States should do the same," he said on the sidelines of talks in Rome.

"It is dangerous in a situation in which global cereal stocks are so low to set unattainable objectives," he said.

The EU, which is to unveil its new objectives on Wednesday, set an ambitious target in 2008 by saying that should represent 10 percent of for the transport sector by 2020.

The current share for renewable energy is 4.5 percent.

In the United States, 40 percent of corn goes for .

"Production of biofuels relies on advanced networks for export which rarely benefit small producers since they are in the hands of big business. So their impact on reducing rural poverty is negligible," De Schutter said.

Big companies often do not care much about developing infrastructure and "generally do not keep promises", he added.

Biofuel production has also been accused of serving as a for large-scale land grabs.

A World Bank report in 2010 said the sector accounted for 21 percent of land bought in developing countries. A more recent World Bank report said that figure had risen to around a third of arable land being purchased.

Explore further: Indonesia passes law to tap volcano power

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU cuts use of food-based biofuels

Oct 17, 2012

The European Commission said Wednesday that it was cutting targets for the use of biofuels so as to reduce the negative impact on food production and prices.

EU to trim biofuel targets on greenhouse gas fears

Sep 11, 2012

The European Union plans to trim targets on biofuel use, once seen as a potential source of cheap alternative energy but now widely blamed for soaring food prices, according to a draft proposal.

Biofuel policy needs rethink, says UN expert

Nov 25, 2011

The UN special rapporteur on the right to food urged the EU for a rethink on biofuels Friday, saying huge errors had been committed in the initial enthusiasm for an alternative to harmful fossil fuels.

France reconsiders plans to boost biofuel use

Sep 12, 2012

France said Wednesday it would reconsider its plans to further develop the use of biofuel, once seen as a potential source of cheap alternative energy but now blamed for soaring food prices.

EU sets tight biofuel standards

Jun 10, 2010

(AP) -- The European Union's top energy official set out tough standards for producing biofuels sold in the EU, demanding producers meet strict environmental criteria.

Recommended for you

Indonesia passes law to tap volcano power

Aug 26, 2014

The Indonesian parliament on Tuesday passed a long-awaited law to bolster the geothermal energy industry and tap the power of the vast archipelago's scores of volcanoes.

Expert calls for nuke plant closure (Update)

Aug 25, 2014

A senior federal nuclear expert is urging regulators to shut down California's last operating nuclear plant until they can determine whether the facility's twin reactors can withstand powerful shaking from ...

Image: Testing electric propulsion

Aug 20, 2014

On Aug. 19, National Aviation Day, a lot of people are reflecting on how far aviation has come in the last century. Could this be the future – a plane with many electric motors that can hover like a helicopter ...

Where's the real value in Tesla's patent pledge?

Aug 20, 2014

With the much-anticipated arrival next month of electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla's Model S to Australian shores, it's a good time to revisit Tesla's pledge to freely share patents. ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

freethinking
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 17, 2012
Only ignorant Progressive environmentalist wacko's think that bio-fuels are a good idea.

Hey wait, doesn't Obama support bio-fuels?

Trust Progressive environmentalist will destroy the earth and cause starvation.
gmfr
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 17, 2012
Only biofuels based on plant waste and algae make sense. Big Agra thinks biofuels from corn and other food stock is a good idea.
Shakescene21
5 / 5 (2) Oct 17, 2012
Most environmentalists would agree that producing biofuel from grain is a bad idea. But producing biofuel from plant waste would be brilliant. A lot of great minds are working on the technology to produce biofuel from waste biomass, and Physorg has chronicled the steady progress toward this goal. Right on!
Caliban
5 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2012
Big Ag gets a nice, fat subsidy for wasting food crops in biofuel production. Big Ag doesn't give two hoots in hell if people are and/or will be starving -- they will not stop wasting food crops in biofuel production until there is more money in their sale as food. Unless, that is, our gubmint steps in and imposes a ban on their use for biofuel production.

There are a number of other crops of grasses and shrubs that are well-suited as biofuel feedstocks, many of which require only minimal cultivation, and as gmfr points out, there are also algae and plant wastes that can be utilised.

The UN should be making this distinction clear, instead of throwing big hunks of red meat out there for the NeoCON Right Wing spin machine to churn into more 1% ideology.

kochevnik
5 / 5 (4) Oct 18, 2012
@freeOfThinking Only ignorant Progressive environmentalist wacko's think that bio-fuels are a good idea.
The first persons championing ethanol in petrol were almost all conservatives, you retard. That's because they were farmers wanting to make a new market for their grain glut, or billionaire food processors wanting to get government grants to fund a new company division. George Bush Sr. announced ethanol biofuel as part of his presidential promises.

It is a liberal policy to MAKE MORE FOOD and eliminate a market for CONSERVATIVE FARMERS. Fuck you are dumb.
VendicarD
5 / 5 (2) Oct 18, 2012
FreeTard thinks that once the earth's existing store of carbon based fuels runs out, Planet Conservadopia is going to run on magic pixie dust, lolipops and wishful thinking.

"Only ignorant Progressive environmentalist wacko's think that bio-fuels are a good idea." - FreeTard

Perhaps he is one of those FreeTards who will insist that coal and oil grow in the ground and that there is an infinite supply.

Who knows what goes on under his tinfoil cap.
VendicarD
5 / 5 (3) Oct 18, 2012
The largest promoter of biofuels in the U.S. has been Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) who pumped millions into advertising campaigns and congressional wallets to purchase the government subsidy for corn derived ethanol.

The U.S. had the potential to be a source of biomass based fuel production. But due to it's refusal to act on the issue of Global Warming, The U.S. will soon be in a position where it will be difficult for it to feed itself, let alone have a surplus of biomass for fuel production.

"The first persons championing ethanol in petrol were almost all conservatives, you retard." - Kochevnik