Germany ministries disagree over call to ban E10

21 August 2012 15:04  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--German ministries disagree over a possible ban on 10%-ethanol blended gasoline (E10), officials said on Tuesday.

Germany’s minister for economic cooperation and development, Dirk Niebel, reiterated his call from last week that E10 production should be stopped because of the fuel's effect on global food prices amid poor harvests in the US.

“I am firmly convinced that the rigid [ethanol] blending rules in Germany, but also in the US, lead to exorbitant price hikes for food when harvests are poor, and therefore we should halt E10 production,” Niebel said on German state television.

German consumer pressure group foodwatch supported the minister.

“[E10] is the wrong way because it stands in competition to food production and is therefore also responsible for rising food prices,” foodwatch general manager Thilo Bode said.

However, an official at Germany’s agriculture ministry said that his ministry does not see a close link between E10 and food prices.

The current increase in global food prices was due to the US drought, as well as to increased global consumption of meat, said Philipp zu Erbach-Furstenau, a spokesman for the agriculture ministry.

“But we see biofuels having only a slight influence on food prices,” he said.

Germany’s biofuels producers association Verband der Deutschen Biokraftstoffindustrie (VDB) has said that a German ban on E10 would have no effect on food security in developing countries.

According to VDB, only about 4% of the country’s grain harvest in 2011 was used for bioethanol production.

Germany introduced E10 last year but the fuel was never popular with the country’s drivers because of fears that it could cause damage the engines of their cars.

In related news, a US court last week threw out a challenge by petroleum, grocery and automobile associations who claimed that 15%-ethanol blended gsoline (E15) could harm engines and was inadequately tested.

Additional reporting by Brian Ford

Check out Doris de Guzman’s Green Chemicals Blog for views on sustainability issues

By: Stefan Baumgarten
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