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The Biofuels Controversy

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On Wednesday the European Parliament shall vote upon the parameters for the use of crop-based fuels. The original target set was for 10% of transport fuel was to be derived from biofuels; however there are calls for this to be capped at around 5%.

The main driver for this decrease is the strong and condemning case that biofuels sourced for the European market are having a detrimental impact on the countries that are being used to grow the crops used in biofuel production.The main crops used in biofuel production are from sugar, cereals and oilseeds.

However palm oil is the most damaging to the environment but also the local inhabitants and wildlife. The growth of palm oil usually requires vast amounts of deforestation, non-more apparent than the likes of Malaysia and Indonesia where it may be argued they were one of the first advocates of palm oil. Over time they are also the focal point of many anti palm oil Non-Governmental Organisations where they have witnessed the devastation caused by its growth.

The spotlight has now headed to Africa where ‘land grabbing’ is now a new phenomenon that ties in with Africa’s agricultural growth. A swathe of European companies are now purchasing land in the tens and even hundreds of thousands of acres with leases ranging from the likes of 50 to 100 years. Land that could and should be utilised for both local and global food production. Which would help lower global food prices; instead, it is being used to sustain the EU demand to meet its sustainable targets.


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