http://www.financialexpress. com/news/fao-says-no-to- moratorium-on-biofuels/373966/
ASHOK B SHARMA
Posted: Oct 16, 2008 at 0113 hrs IST
Updated: Oct 16, 2008 at 0113 hrs IST
New Delhi, Oct 15 : The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which has acknowledged that bio-fuel programme as one of the factors responsible for the present global food crisis, has soft-pedaled on the issue by not calling for a moratorium. It has rather suggested to make an in-depth assessment of its risks and possible benefits.
An FAO report ‘The State of Food and Agriculture-2008’ said, “A variety of factors have combined to raise food prices to the highest levels since the 1970s (in real terms) with serious implications for food security among poor populations around the world. One of the most frequently mentioned contributing factors is the recent rapid growth in the use of agricultural commodities – including some food crops – for the production of bio-fuels.”
“The emergence of bio-fuels as a new and significant source of demand for some agricultural commodities – including maize, sugar, oilseeds and palm oil – contributes to higher prices of agricultural commodities in general, and for resources used to produce them,” it said.
According to the FAO representative in India and Bhutan, Gavin Wall, who released the report in Delhi on Wednesday, the potential benefits of bio-fuels and farmers’ income need to be considered.
Though the report said that the impact of bio-fuel on food prices and its potential to contribute to energy security, climate-change mitigation and agricultural development continue to remain as the topic for the debate. It, however, acknowledged that the future of bio-fuels and the role they would play for agriculture and food security remain uncertain. Though the bio-fuels will offset only a modest share of fossil energy use over the next decade, they would have much bigger impact on agriculture and food security.
The report also found the impact of bio-fuels on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions varying widely, depending upon where and how various feedstock crops are produced. In many cases increased emissions from land-use changes may offset or even exceed GHG savings obtained through replacing fossil fuel use. Other concerns are the impact on water use, soil and biodiversity.
FAO pinned its hope on the second generation bio-fuels which may offer additional benefits and called investment on is research and phasing out of production subsidies and trade barriers in OECD countries.