While we’re on the subject of food, two interesting things to report from the Brussels conference that I mentioned a couple of posts ago:
First, it looks as though there may be pressure in Brussels for the EU to revisit its (extremely ill-advised) target for 10% of transport fuels to come from biofuels by 2020. Avril Doyle, an MEP who sits on the EP’s Environment and Climate Change Committees, was especially blunt about this, having returned from Bali apparently horrified by the revelation that the amount of corn it takes to fill a fuel tank with ethanol could feed someone for a year (a stat I can’t vouch for, not having come across it before). The EU’s target was, she said, a policy commitment made in good faith, but loooked now like it had been a mistake.
Interestingly, Tom Spencer – a former MEP who used to chair the EP Foreign Affairs Committee and who remains a leading light of GLOBE, the global network of green-minded Parliamentarians – flatly rebutted the notion that Brussels had set the target on the basis of a sustainability case that was sincere if perhaps flawed. In fact, he said, GLOBE had made it abundantly clear to MEPs throughout the policy development process that a biofuels target of the kind that was set would have serious, negative repercussions for global food security; but, he went on, the EP had backed the target anyway, not on the basis of a sustainability case, but purely and simply because of pressure from agricultural lobbies.
The other interesting point on food was in remarks made by a USAF Colonel representing EUCOM, the US military command for Europe. In an arrestingly forthright presentation, he led on the argument that in years to come, the real scarce resources were not, as policymakers were starting to think, oil and gas: instead, it would be food and water.