Biofuels goals under scrutiny

Britain must radically rethink its environment strategy after a government report said biofuels development had played a significant role in the recent surge in global food prices.

The Gallagher report, due to be published next week, will call for a review of UK and EU targets for the use of plant-derived fuels in place of petrol and diesel, the Guardian claims.

Professor Ed Gallagher, head of the Renewable Fuels Agency, has said more research was needed into the ramifications of biofuels on land use and food production.

Since April, all petrol must contain 2.5 per cent of biofuels. The government has set a target of five per cent by 2010 target.

The EU is considering a ten per cent target by 2010.

The report will say a distinction has to be made between first-generation biofuels, which use food crops such as corn, rapeseed, palm and soya, and experimental second-generation fuels based on fibrous non-food plants.

Kenneth Richter, Friends of the Earth's biofuels campaigner said:"The real problem is the sheer scale of the EU's biofuels target. Finding enough land to grow 10 per cent of Europe's road transport fuel will be bad for people and bad for wildlife. So-called sustainability criteria won't solve this alone.

"European governments must drop these targets and concentrate on cutting fuel use by improving public transport and insisting that all new cars use petrol much more smartly."

BusinessEurope, Europe's leading business lobby, has also called for a rethink of the EU's biofuel target.

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