Biofuels survived a challenge on the international level this week as agriculture ministers meeting in France declined to recommend countries limit production to avoid impacting food prices.
The agreement reached by the ministers mainly focuses on creation of an agricultural market information system and removing barriers to food exports for humanitarian purposes. The ministers did call for further analysis of the impact of biofuels on food availability, price volatility and sustainability. “We also recognize the importance of research and development on biofuels, including those produced through new processes or new feedstocks, non-food feedstocks and other vegetable materials,” they said in their declaration.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that biofuels development can help alleviate spikes in oil prices that impact food prices. “Furthermore, our work to support innovation in the development of non-food feedstocks and next generation renewable fuels will continue to help offset instability in the energy market, which accounts for the bulk of food and commodity price fluctuations in the past decade,” he said.
The European ethanol trade group ePURE said the ministers’ decision “recognizes the vital role of biofuels in reduction of greenhouse gases, energy security and rural development and said that there was not enough evidence to link biofuels to food price volatility. The European ethanol industry welcomes the decision by the G20 to vanquish the myth that biofuels are responsible for food price volatility.”