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Biofuels – More Problem Than Solution?

A number of years ago biofuels were being touted as the answer to fuel shortages, carbon emissions and sustainable living. Nowadays their impact on global food prices and their carbon footprint are being re-evaluated.
In September the European Parliament voted to significantly reduce the amount of biofuels made from food crops by 2020. This was in response to concerns over the energy source's environmental and ethical sustainability.
Many argue that biofuels made from sugar, corn or soybeans add as much or even more to greenhouse gas emissions as the fossil fuels they are meant to replace. Others criticise the burning of crops which displaces food production and drives up prices for basic staples while there are still millions of malnourished worldwide.
The European Parliament voted to lower the amount of fuel that must come from renewable sources by 2020 from 10 percent to 6 percent.
The decision also calls for advanced biofuels, based on seaweed or certain types of waste, to represent at least 2.5 percent of transportation's energy consumption by 2020.
The overall target of 10 percent was initially established in 2008, but the Commission last year proposed a 5 percent cap for food crop-based biofuels. 
Parliament's environment committee had initially voted in favour of a cap of 5.5 percent while the industry committee sought a limit of 6.5 percent. 
The European Renewable Ethanol Association rejected the suggestion that biofuel crops are putting too much pressure on food production. The group also argued that the impact of biofuels on food prices is greatly exaggerated, while it criticises limiting what it says is one of Europe's growing industries.