The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
EU Biofuels Boondoggle Raising Global Food Prices

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Getting rid of biofuel programs would cut Europe’s food costs in half by 2020, and lower global food prices by 15 percent. That’s according to a new report, commissioned by the EU’s own Joint Research Center (JRC), released ahead of a critical European Parliament vote on Wednesday to cap biofuels’ contributions to the EU’s 2020 green targets.

Current EU targets have more than half of the continent’s vegetable oils going towards biodiesel production in 2020. The new paper points out that global food prices are “strongly driven” by their end use. As Euractiv puts it, “[w]hen more soy and palm oil are used for biofuels production, less is available for food use and the resulting scarcity drives food price inflation.”

Decreasing biodiesel production would mean more food production and therefore lower food prices. The JRC estimated that global food prices would decrease 8 percent by 2020 if the European Parliament agrees to cap biodiesel production, and by a whopping 15 percent if the biodiesel targets are scrapped altogether. Even greens recognize the folly of biofuels:

“The EU’s stated goal is to decarbonise our transport fuels, but this is simply not possible if we don’t count all the carbon released when new land is converted to grow fuel,” Nuša Urbančič, the clean fuels manager for green think tank Transport and Environment told EurActiv.

The European Parliament’s environment committee already voted to cap biofuel targets, but Wednesday’s vote will be critical to the boondoggle’s future in Europe. Meanwhile, two bills to reform and/or repeal America’s biofuel mandate are slowly working their way through the US Congress.

We may never know how many poor people around the world have suffered hunger or even starvation as a result of stupid green policies where naive greens have carried the water for big agricultural interests.

[Withered corn crop image courtesy of Shutterstock]

Published on September 9, 2013 2:20 pm
  • Anthony

    Articles like this are why I keep coming back to Via Meadia. I’m the kind of person who would normally support bio fuel. After reading posts like this, however, I won’t in the future.

  • Corlyss

    They didn’t get anywhere with American policy makers decrying the waste of food by diverting it into fuel. EPA still marches on trying to turn corn into corrosive well-intentioned gestures. I recall several years ago, 2010-ish, that the UN food czar sobbed into microphones about how biofuel policy was starving babies worldwide.

  • cubanbob

    Burning food for fuel might make sense as an emergency wartime effort but other than that its not only a colossal waste of money and resources but a sin as well.

  • jb willikers

    Hey, if people starve to death it’s a self correcting problem. Next?

  • Herb Suhl

    Farmers greed plants too much seed.

  • crocodilechuck

    Why do you continually call it a ‘Greens’ folly?

    Its a sop to Big Ag: ConAgra, Cargill, ArcherDanielsMidland!

  • ARL1

    Growing for Palm oil and Soya oil and especially Jatropha is a joke. The only things we should be using are crop residues like Wheat straw , Canola (rape seed in EU) Straw and aslo volumes of Miscathus (Elephane Grass) in select areas like the fallow land in Ukraine and Russia which has millions of hectares of unused land.