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Biofuels Industry: 'Address Real Causes of Hunger'

18 June 2013

UK - With the G8 summit underway, the UK biofuel supply chain is calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to use the opportunity of the G8 meetings to address the multiple causes of global hunger, and not simply blame the biofuel industry.

Industry spokesperson Clare Wenner said: “The European Commission estimates that bioethanol production constituted only three per cent of total cereal use in 2010/2011. Globally, biodiesel accounts for a similar share of the oil crops. Only two per cent of global arable land is used for biofuels and the vast majority of EU biofuels feedstocks are crops grown in Europe.

"Without this demand and with no real export potential, EU farmers would simply cut their production and the corresponding volumes of animal feed materials would need to be imported from overseas. Already more than two million hectares of good arable land is not in production in the EU and this area is growing every year.”

Making progress on issues of food availability and accessibility in developing countries will require the G8 to focus not on biofuels but on well documented problems such as the inadequacies of infrastructure, lack of education and knowledge on agricultural practices (harvest losses average 30 per cent, and are up to 90 per cent in some developing countries), trade disruptions due to closed borders, as well as the lack of income to buy food.

The UK biofuels market has enabled farmers to invest in greater productivity and sustainable agricultural practices, and with over £1 billion invested in UK biofuels, the industry is supporting jobs and growth in some of the more disadvantaged regions of the UK.

Clare Wenner said: “Biofuel production in Europe and the UK is not a simple question of food versus fuel; these markets are closely interlinked. There is sufficient flexibility within the current regulatory framework to allow industry to respond to market signals. Crop-based biofuel production is not only an essential part of meeting our renewable transport fuel targets – it also provides valuable high protein feed co-products for the livestock sector, as well as rotational benefits, essential for increasing food production and protecting soil quality.

“Europe has a structural protein deficiency for livestock feed and is dependent on imports of protein crops and meals from overseas. The European Parliament estimates this shortfall at 20 million tonnes, whilst the UK imports 80 per cent of its protein requirements. A sustainable biofuels industry plays an important role in narrowing this deficit whilst at the same time acting as an important incentive for research and for the development of better performing plant varieties.”

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