(London, Thursday 14th June 2012) Europe’s demand for biofuels could drive up food crop prices by as much as 36% by 2020, helping to push millions more into hunger, a new report from ActionAid reveals.  But despite this and other widespread evidence that biofuels are a major contributor to global hunger, the G20 will yet again avoid the issue when it meets in Mexico next week.

‘Biofueling World Food Prices’ shows that prices of key agricultural commodities such as corn, wheat and vegetable oils will escalate sharply in response to EU biofuel policies, hitting the world’s poorest the hardest.  By consigning biofuels to history, leaders at next week’s G20 summit could take a giant leap towards stopping the world’s poorest from going hungry. 

 Clare Coffey, policy advisor at ActionAid UK says:

“Biofuels will be the elephant in the room at the G20 summit as no-one there is prepared to speak out on the subject. 

"The powerful biofuels lobby has persuaded world leaders to ignore the scientific facts and not to rock the boat, but all the evidence is making world leaders look increasingly irrational for refusing to address the issue”

EU biofuels use is expected to reach the equivalent of nearly 30 million tonnes of oil by the end of this decade, driven by a mandatory target for 10% of renewable energy in transport fuels by 2020.  If that happens, the impact on food price rises will mean millions more people facing terrible choices - either cut back on nutritional intake or stop paying for basic social services such as education or health.

As a growing body of evidence emerges about the detrimental effects biofuels mandates are having on agricultural commodity prices and food security in developing countries, it is the perfect opportunity for the G20 to commit to decisive action that serves the global interest. Instead, G20 leaders are divided over the issue, with the EU, US, Brazil and others resisting any attempts to weaken their biofuels industries, while the rest of the world pays dearly for price rises and volatility that biofuels are helping to induce.

Coffey continued: “The G20 must acknowledge the significant role of biofuels in worsening global food security. A billion people around the world are already malnourished. EU and other countries are sleep-walking their way to a global food security disaster.”

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Editors' notes

Further Information and Interviews:

Ginny Reid, ActionAid:  020 3122 0691/07714 718935

Or Natalie Curtis Tel: +44 (0) 203 122 0641 or

Notes to Editors

EU ethanol use will lift maize prices by as much as 22% and sugar by as much as 21% by 2020, compounding heavy impacts from US corn ethanol and Brazilian sugar ethanol. Meanwhile, EU biodiesel use could push oil seed prices up by as much as 20% and vegetable oils as much as 36% by 2020. The force of these commodity price rises will hit at a time when local markets will be reeling from the effects of large tracts of land being taken over for biofuel production.  

The ActionAid briefing ‘Biofueling World Food Prices’  draws on a new study commissioned by ActionAid from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) entitled ‘EU biofuel use and agricultural commodity prices’. IEEP is an independent research institute