The European Union may be reducing its goal for use of biofuels from food crops by half, BusinessWeek reports. The current target is for 10% of transport fuels to come from renewable sources by 2020. A new proposal from the European Commission would cut that in half.
At current levels of biofuel use across the EU, it would be less than half a percent increase over the next eight years.
Additional requirements of the proposed policy change include mandating reporting of indirect land use changes associated with biofuel production, in calculating the emissions savings of a particular biofuel.
Commenting on the impact of biofuel production of food security broadly, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter says:
Major concerns exist in regard to local food security in the countries dedicating an increasing portion of their farmland to the production of energy crops. As more land and water are allocated to such crops, competition increases for access to resources, with potentially detrimental consequences for the production of food crops that feed the local communities. This may lead to local food prices rising, and to local food insecurity increasing as a result, concentrated within the groups of the local population that do not benefit, through increased incomes, from the production of agrofuels. Indeed, it was the fear that local grain prices would steadily increase if more cereals were converted to agrofuel production that led China to suspend the expansion of agrofuel production in 2006.
And, the effect of biofuel production on farms and farmers in developing countries:
Simply encouraging the development of monocultures for exports, when this will benefit primarily large-scale producers who already reap most of the benefits from improved access to the high-value markets of industrialized countries, may in fact increase inequalities within developing countries, rather than reducing them. Supporting small-scale farming, meanwhile, delivers the inherent win-win of putting income in the hands of farmers who are themselves among the poorest and most food insecure, while supporting those who have a long-term interest in maintaining – and not merely exploiting - the natural resource base.