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14 September 2010

Biofuels in hunger dock again

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ActionAid report on eve of UN meeting says EU climate policies are depriving poor farmers of land for food production

Biofuel production again stands accused of depriving the world's poorest of arable land for growing food.

This time the j'accuse comes in the form of a report published today by ActionAid. The charity claims the EU's biofuels policies are costing poor countries $450 billion a year, more than 10 times the amount needed to halve hunger by 2015.

The report, Who’s Really Fighting Hunger?, is published just before the UN meets on 20 September in New York to discuss progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Halving hunger by 2015 is MDG One, which ActionAid says will be missed, despite the UN's assurances it will be met.

“EU leaders have broken their promises to the world’s poor by pushing policies that leave people, farmers and workers, without land and food,” said ActionAid’s European policy and campaigns manager, Laura Sullivan. “They are giving generous subsidies and tax breaks to biofuels producers, which could push up the price of staple food by as much as 15 per cent by 2020, driving millions more into hunger.”

ActionAid estimates that 30 to 40 million hectares of crop land will be needed by 2020 to meet the EU’s demand for biofuels – half of which will be in developing countries. EU companies have already acquired or requested at least 5 million hectares of land for industrial biofuels in developing countries. All of the biofuel produced on this land is for export, a familiar cash-crops problem for poor nations.

ActionAid’s report evaluates countries' progress in fulfilling their commitments to end global hunger. Twenty eight developing countries and 23 rich nations - members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee - are analysed in the report. The indicators are based on the actions that the UN has identified as most critical to reverse global hunger.

Developing countries have been graded on their performance on eliminating hunger and improving child nutrition and on three areas of public action: legal commitment to food as a right, investment in agriculture and social protection.


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