Friday, April 11, 2008

[PBN] PM Gordon Brown wants G8 to discuss biofuel link to food pr ices

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged his Japanese counterpart to include the impact of biofuel production on food prices on the agenda of the G8 summit in July, Downing Street said Thursday.

"There is growing consensus that we need urgently to examine the impact on food prices of different kinds and production methods of biofuels, and ensure that their use is responsible and sustainable," Brown wrote in a letter to Yasuo Fukuda.

Food prices have been spiralling higher globally due partly to the growing use of biofuels, which were once considered a major breakthrough in the fight against climate change but have been blamed for taking land away from traditional crops.

Brown said rising populations, strong demand from developing countries, and extreme weather were also driving up the cost of food.

"Rising food prices threaten to roll back progress we have made in recent years on development. For the first time in decades, the number of people facing hunger is growing," Brown wrote.

"Food prices have risen sharply leading to food riots in several countries. Increased wealth and growing populations in developing countries contribute to steadily increasing global demand for grains, for food and animal feed, aggravated by rapidly increasing biofuel production."

Brown called for increased efforts by the Group of Eight most industrialised countries - Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- "for a WTO trade deal that provides greater poor country access to developed country markets."

He also proposed "social safety nets for the poorest," adding: "We may need to increase the scale of our support for humanitarian programmes."

The G8 summit will be held in Hokkaido, Japan, in July.


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