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The Hunger Grains briefing paper

by Luna Allison | September 17, 2012

This paper shows how concerns about land and food rights around the world, both major campaigning priorities for Oxfam, are closely linked to EU biofuel mandates.

In 2009, EU governments committed to sourcing 10 per cent of transport energy from renewable sources by 2020: they are set to meet this target almost exclusively using biofuels made from food crops.

  • Land grabs: Countries with poor protection of land rights are magnets for land deals – most of which are to grow crops that can be used for biofuels – which means that many land deals for biofuel production are ‘land grabs’, concluded without the consent of affected communities.
  • Production: If the land used to produce biofuels for the EU in 2008 had been used to produce wheat and maize instead, it could have fed 127 million people for the entire year.
  • Demand: On top of this, biofuel mandates are an incredible inelastic source of demand for food crops; by 2020, EU biofuel mandates alone could push up the price of some foods by as much as 36 per cent.
  • Climate change: Biofuel mandates are not even a solution to climate change; modeling shows that plowing up carbon sinks to meet EU biofuel mandates could be as bad for the environment as putting an extra 26 million cars on Europe’s roads.

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