Food or fuel?

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More than hundred British and international NGO’s and charity organizations are lobbying against biofuel production due to a waste amount of fertile land used for its production in poor countries instead of food production.

Biofuel increasing global food prices

According to the charity organization ActionAid, the amount of food crops burnt by the world’s richest nations (G8) as biofuel is enough to feed half the world’s hungriest people – 441 million. Furthermore, nearly nine billion liters of biofuels are used annually to fuel cars in the world’s wealthiest countries. In its Fuelling Hunger report, anti-poverty charity reveals six million hectares of land in sub-Saharan Africa (equivalent to almost half the area of England) have been used by European companies to grow biofuel crops.

Growing demand for biofuel in G8 countries has pushed up global food prices and subsequently contributed to world hunger.  EU currently demands 10 per cent of transport fuel to come from renewable sources by 2020, through its Renewable Energy Directive (RED), most of which member states are expected to meet by using biofuels.

ActionAid also highlights the impact European biofuel companies have on the distribution of land and land rights in developing countries. Land acquisitions have been particularly damaging to food security, since around two-thirds of investors export what they grow or use land to cultivate crops for biofuels rather than for local consumption.

Food or fuel

More than half of global land acquisitions are estimated to be used for biofuel crops rather than food. As well as biofuel being discredited ethically, critics point out the negative consequences of biofuel production on environment, since it increases global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. However, supporters of biofuels say that plant-based fuels introduce new markets and help to reduce overall carbon emissions.

“Enough Food for Everyone” campaign lobby for radical progress

As the UK prepares to host this June’s G8 Summit, the coalition of more than hundred charities gathered around common campaign under the name Enough Food for Everyone, which aims to put pressure on David Cameron to use Britain’s presidency of the G8 to address the root causes of hunger, which still kills two million children every year.

David Cameron has already committed to put the causes of global hunger high on the political agenda during his presidency while the UK government stated that it is promoting biofuels from crops that don’t compete with food in developing countries.  Campaign, launched last week and backed by Nobel Prize winner Desmond Tutu and Bill Gates, is expected to reach its peak in June, including demonstrations in London and Northern Ireland over the weekend of the summit.

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