Ethanol Industry Hits Back over Food Price Claims
(EurActiv) Europe’s biofuel producers are hitting back at claims that they are at fault for this summer’s high food prices and challenge assertions that crops grown for fuel production are a threat to food supplies.
Food prices rose 6% overall last month, driven by a devastating drought in the United States and rising petrol costs that make production and distribution more costly. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported that maize prices soared 23%, wheat was up 19% and sugar 12% compared to June.
…Factors other than the growing demand for biofuels in Europe and the United States are at play in the higher costs of food, says Rob Vierhout, secretary-general of the European Renewable Ethanol Association, or ePure. He sees commodities speculation, food waste and growing appetites in emerging markets as bigger factors.
“You cannot present a convincing case that biofuels are structurally causing higher food prices,” Vierhout told EurActiv. “We have had problems with [volatility] for decades and even in the time when biofuels were absolutely not around.”
An export ban like the one Russia imposed during its own damaging drought two years ago “immediately inflates the price,” Vierhout said. “And you can give more examples. We have seen hugely volatile prices with rice whereas rice is not used for biofuels.”
Vierhout blamed some campaign groups and journalists for linking biofuels to higher food costs, saying there’s another side to the story: higher prices encourage farmers to be more productive and drive innovation in crop use. The biofuel market also cuts waste in agriculture by turning plant residue into fuel and reduces excess capacity. READ MORE and MORE (The Guardian) and MORE (Herald-Review)