[SUSTAINABLE] Biofuel industries pleased by UN summit resolution

Biofuel industry leaders welcomed a cautious declaration on crop-based fuels, issued on Thursday at a global food summit that featured a fiery debate over the merits of increasing biofuel production. The U.S. Renewable Fuels Association, the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association, and the European Bioethanol Fuel Association said they welcomed the "thoughtful approach" that world leaders took in wrapping up a United Nations summit in Rome this week focusing on the global food crisis.

"We welcome today's U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization proposal to undertake further study of biofuels in agriculture. We are confident it will underscore the valuable contribution biofuels can make to ease the energy and agriculture challenges confronting all nations," they said in a statement. Critics say diversion of food crops like maize and sugar to make alternative fuels has been a major driver in the surge in food prices that has exacerbated world hunger.

A report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, which hosted the summit, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development asked leaders to rethink biofuel policy and called its economic, environmental and energy benefits "at best modest and sometimes even negative." Countries that rely on biofuels, such as the United States and Brasil, defended their technologies at the summit.

The Bush administration says biofuels account for only a small part of the run-up in food prices, while record oil prices also are boosting food prices. Under pressure from Washington, the summit declaration referred to both the "challenges and opportunities" that biofuels present. "We are convinced that in-depth studies are necessary to ensure that production and use of biofuels is sustainable," the declaration said.

The biofuel producers said they were reassured that leaders "understand the detrimental impact of high oil prices on the cost of producing and transporting food." "Moving forward, we hope that the leaders of the G8 summit meeting in Japan next month will seriously consider the World Food Summit's measured approach to biofuels and agree on the continued need to advance the world's biofuels industry," the statement added.

Source: India Economic Times

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