EU's biofuel policy fuelling food inflation: ActionAid

Report predicts forced displacement of poor people from their land to meet EU targets to grow fuel crops

By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Friday 27 April 2012

The European Union’s biofuel policies are driving up global food prices and pushing people in poor countries off their land, says a recent report of ActionAid. EU has a target of 10 per cent renewable energy in transport by 2020, and 88 per cent of this is expected to come from biofuels.

The report Fuel for Thought  comes at a time when the European Commission is set to submit a report on Renewable Energy Directive to the European Parliament this year. “We want the commission to investigate the full impacts of the EU’s biofuels policies on human rights in its review,” says Laura Sullivan, ActionAid’s head of European advocacy. 

The report says EU’s increased demand for biofuels may push global food prices to crisis levels. It is estimated that the EU’s biofuels policies alone could push up oilseed prices by up to 33 per cent, maize by up to 22 per cent, sugar by up to 21 per cent and wheat by up to 10 per cent, between now and 2020. “If it continues to ignore the impacts of its biofuels policy on people living in some of the poorest parts of the planet, the EU will effectively be sponsoring hunger and human rights abuses on a massive scale,” says Sullivan.

With an estimated 13-19 million hectares of land outside of Europe needed to meet the EU-wide targets to grow fuel for the European market, forced displacement of poor people from their land are set to increase, says the report which documents a series of dodgy deals by European companies, leading to mass displacement and rights abuses in countries in Africa and Latin America. For example, eleven villages in Tanzania were affected when a British company seized 8,200 hectares of land to grow biofuel for the European market.

“Europe must start opening its eyes to the damage that its renewable energy policies are doing in poor countries—and has a chance to change them this year,” says Sullivan. “Instead of pumping money into this fool’s gold, the EU needs to drop its targets and subsidies, and invest the money in truly sustainable alternatives, that support local farmers to produce food not fuel,” she added.



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