ePURE rejects claims biofuels production causes higher food prices

23 August 2012 17:31  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE) on Thursday rejected claims that biofuels production has resulted in higher global food prices.

“Global grain use for biofuels is miniscule and nowhere near enough to inflate prices significantly. Singling out biofuels for blame for rising food prices is simply reckless and only serves to damage public confidence in good biofuels,” said Rob Vierhout, secretary general of ePURE.

According to ePURE, the EU will use an estimated 3m tonnes of corn for ethanol production during 2012, and it says this represents 1% of total EU grain production.

ePURE said 4.6m tonnes of wheat will also be used for ethanol production in 2012 and that this represents around 1.5% of total EU grain production.

Meanwhile, the EU is using 166.5m tonnes of grain production for animal feed alone, ePURE added.

On a global scale, ePURE reasons that world ethanol production accounts for gross 4% of total cereal use, which represents 3% of net global grain use when ethanol animal feed co-products are taken into account.

There have been calls from the UN and food organisations in the US to waive ethanol blending mandates in recent weeks, because of concerns that its reliance on grains such as corn and wheat as feedstocks is exerting upward pressure on global food prices.

Furthermore, Dirk Niebel, Germany’s federal minister of Economic Cooperation and Development, has called for an end to E10 fuel (10%-ethanol blended gasoline) in Germany, as he believes its production leads to higher food prices.

However, sources from the fuel ethanol industry said that even if blending mandates are waived, oil companies will still continue to blend ethanol with gasoline, as it is the cheapest octane booster available.

Europe has enough grain to produce both its food and fuel needs. Blaming biofuels is the lazy option – if policy makers are serious about addressing food price volatility then they must tackle the fundamental causes of food price inflation such as volatile oil prices, unchecked financial speculation in food commodities markets, and rising levels of food waste," Vierhout said.

"It is truly unbelievable that, while critics continue to blame biofuels for creating a food crisis, last year in Europe we wasted 50% of our food,” he added.

($1 = €0.80)

By: Sarah Trinder
+44 20 8652 3214

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