Soybean fields extend for miles in Paraguay. Photo: MercoPress
Soybean fields extend for miles on what was often thickly forested land in Paraguay. Photo: MercoPress

At the Committee on World Food Security, despite acknowledging the evidence, the US and the EU refuse to act to eliminate harmful biofuels policies

“Unfortunately, powerful countries refused to act despite the evidence and preferred to put biofuel industry interests ahead of peoples’ right to food.”
Luca Chinotti
Oxfam Food and Agriculture Advisor
Published: 11 October 2013

At the CFS, the stakes were undoubtedly high. The Committee on World Food Security, the world's most important intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder platform for food security and nutrition, closed today its 40th session (CFS 40) at FAO headquarters, amid urgent calls to ensure that all countries policies and actions deliver for the 842 million people that goes to bed hungry every night. At the CFS, for the first time, all governments were confronted with the comprehensive and undisputed evidence of the impact of their biofuels policies on food security.

Oxfam, together with all civil society groups, called for all countries to “eliminate their biofuels mandates, subsidies and tariffs that have negative impacts on food security by driving land grabbing and high and volatile prices.” However, the EU and the US, along with their biofuels industries interests and with the consent of other biofuel producers, prevailed in ensuring these policy recommendations were left on the cutting room floor. Powerful countries refused to listen to the interest of people hardest hit by hunger. In the end, they refused to acknowledge the urgent necessity of ensuring their biofuel policies are consistent with their obligations on the Right to Food.

“At the CFS the EU and the US were confronted with their responsibilities to radically reform their biofuels policies," said Luca Chinotti, Oxfam Food and Agriculture Advisor. "Despite the overwhelming evidence presented about the negative link between biofuels and food security, countries refused to take action on policies fueling land grabs, prices spikes and hunger. Talking to these countries about the negative impact of their biofuels policies is like talking to the tobacco industry about the impact of smoking on health.

“Unfortunately, powerful countries refused to act despite the evidence and preferred to put biofuel industry interests ahead of peoples’ right to food and arm-twisted poor countries to accept watered-down recommendations. It is a shame that no concrete action were agreed upon. EU and US policies will continue to fuel hunger and they know it.

“The EU recognized that biofuels poses problems on land, prices and increase competition on scarce natural resources but didn’t want to take concrete actions. Actually the EU even refused to have mandates mentioned. EU countries should stop being schizophrenic, go back to Brussels and agree to scrap biofuels mandates.

“It is particularly scandalous that Canada, supported by the US, tried to escape from their Human Rights obligations, notably on the Right to Food, as if they didn’t apply to biofuels policies.

“The CFS made a significant step forward in recognizing the centrality of smallholder in agricultural investment and by agreeing to request all the countries to develop their vision on how to ensure agricultural policies deliver for smallholders. This will be key to eradicate hunger.”

Notes to Editors

Read more: What are biofuels? What’s the problem with them? This biofuels Q&A can help clear things up

Contact Information

Oxfam spokespeople are available for interview in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and German. 

For interviews or further information, please contact:
Mariateresa Alvino, Oxfam Press Officer, mariateresa.alvino@oxfamitalia.org, +39.348.9803541

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