NFU President Peter Kendall will be speaking today (Wednesday
13 June) at the National Cereals event in Cambridgeshire and inviting
his audience to engage in a realistic assessment of the hotly debated
subject of biofuels and putting it into context of agriculture’s
wider renewable contribution.
NFU President Peter Kendall
In a speech entitled ‘Food versus Fuel – myths and
misconceptions’ Mr Kendall will examine the arguments for
and against the use of biofuels in the transport industry. Surrounded
by potential growers of the grains, oils and sugar beet that could
be used to fulfil the renewable transport fuel obligation (RTFO)
he will encourage his audience not to be taken in by the recent
negative messages about the new technology.
Mr Kendall will also talk about the impact on third world agriculture,
production capacity, and the environmental and ecological impacts
Speaking before the event, Mr Kendall said: “I simply cannot
believe that something that so recently was only viewed as a good
news story should suddenly be attracting so much negative publicity.
Only a matter of months ago everyone was in agreement that this
was an important element in bringing down the carbon emissions
from transport fuels but suddenly the subject is attracting a cacophony
of complaints from a number of different interest groups.
“Fortunately I am not alone in continuing to understand
the reality of the situation. Richard Branson launched his biodiesel
Virgin Voyager train last week with the news that if they convert
their entire Voyager fleet it would cut carbon emissions by 14
per cent, the equivalent to taking 23,000 cars off the road (1).
Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth Transport Campaigner, said
with the introduction of RTFO that biofuels would have a vital
role to play in cutting transport emissions (2) and, far from fearing
for the future of their farmers, the farming organisation of Southern
Africa has said that biofuels would provide a huge opportunity
for farmers to augment their incomes (3).
“I am not blind to the international concerns about biofuels
and biodiversity and I echo the sentiments of the EU Minister for
Agriculture, Mariann Fischer Boel, who has given a commitment to
a mechanism for any biofuels used in Europe not to have undesirable
environmental consequences (4). That’s good news for English
farmers who are already working to assurance schemes and can readily
supply sufficient biofuels to meet EU targets.”
Apart from debunking the myths that are growing up around the
biofuel debate Mr Kendall will also welcome the benefits that all
energy based on agriculture, rather than fossil fuels, will bring.
“For the first time in half a century farming can be seen
as providing solutions, not problems. My vision is that, with on
farm energy production provided by biomass plants and biogas units,
farmers will become net exporters of energy. Growing crops for
biofuels will be part of that. These are developments that anyone
with any knowledge of the science would welcome.”
Mr Kendall will also tackle the issue of food prices at the event.
He said: “What I cannot tolerate is the hypocrisy of food
manufacturers who are now bleating about food inflation when, for
a long time, they have calmly watched farmers’ margins being
squeezed while always hanging onto, or improving, their own."
Kemira GrowHow Adds Perspective to Green Debate
Demand for Biofuels Inflates Global Food Prices
Crop Market Update