Ecumenical News International

EKD Council Chairman: Nobody should go hungry due to biofuel

August 21, 2012

The proposal made by Minister for Development Dirk Niebel (Free Democratic Party, FDP) to do away with E10 fuel has also been met with a variety of reactions. While the oil industry has opposed it, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) views the use of biofuel with skepticism in light of the famines throughout the world. EKD Council Chairman Nikolaus Schneider had demanded that an end be put to the use of biofuel if it is seen to lead to starvation in developing countries.

As Klaus Picard, managing director of Germany's main oil sector association, told the Bildzeitung on Tuesday: "E10 should not abolished, but ethanol from bread grains needs to be replaced by other alternatives." Niebel also asked that only the inedible parts of the plants be used for fuel.

Minister for Development Niebel sparked the discussion on biofuel this past week by calling for sales of E10 to be stopped. He saw a connection between the use of grain for biofuel and rising food prices. A speaker for the German Federal Minister for Agriculture, Ilse Aigner (Christian Social Union, CSU), stated however on Monday that biofuels only influenced agricultural prices to a minor degree.

EKD Council Chairman Nikolaus Schneider told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Wednesday that if it should indeed come to a conflict between food and fuel, we need to put an end to bioenergy. Schneider did not, however, think that this problem currently affects Germany, but did suggest having a close look at what is being consumed in the country: "I do not see a problem if this is in fact just a matter of making use of waste byproducts." He did say that this was a problem in other parts of the world and that "food is there to still people's hunger."

Claudia Kemfert, an energy expert with the German Institute for Economic Research, spoke out against a ban on E10. As she told the the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung on Tuesday, sustainably produced biofuels could indeed reduce dependence on oil, while the fact that "developing countries suffer from high food prices" was a reflection of "price speculation". Improving the monitoring of speculation would thus be of greater use than a national ban on E10.

A spokesperson for the German Federal Ministry of Development explained that the high food prices in developing countries had a variety of causes. As he told the Protestant news agency epd, this included climatic conditions as well as the poor education of farmers and a lack of storage facilities.



extended search