Aug 15, 2007

Meeting 10 per cent biofuel obligation will consume 15 per cent of arable land, says European Commission

Brussels, Belgium – Meeting a requirement for 10 per cent biofuel in Europe by 2010 will consume about 15 per cent of arable land in Europe, according to a report published by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development. The study was reported by the Green Car Congress.

The 15 per cent figure is predicated on the assumption that 30 per cent of biofuel production will be from second-generation processes, and 20 per cent of the supply will be imported.

Under the 10 per cent obligation, about 59 million tons of cereals, mostly soft wheat and corn, will be expected to be used for first-generation biofuels, and along with straw, for second-generation biofuels. Even with a projected yield of increase of about one per cent per year, domestic use of cereals will increase significantly, while exports will decline.

The report estimates that the long-term impact of biofuel production will create a cereal price increase of three to six per cent, compared to 2006 prices.

In conclusion, the report says that at 10 per cent, production will not overly stretch land availability or lead to a significant increase of intensities of production, because of the limited pressure on markets. The long-term until 2020, and the relatively small increase in cereal feed use in the European Union over that time would leave enough possibilities for European farmers to support the need for cereals, without danger of returning to fertilizer and pesticide input patterns seen until the late 1980s.

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