EU Biofuel Targets Encourage Unethical Practices Worldwide, Study Says

European biofuel targets are encouraging unethical practices worldwide, from human rights violations to deforestation, and should be suspended until better safeguards are in place, a new report says. The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, an independent organization that studies ethical issues in medicine and biology, says current European Union and UK policies intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — including an EU directive requiring that 10 percent of transportation fuels be derived from biofuels by 2020 — have backfired. Such targets have triggered a boom in production of biofuel crops that has resulted in the displacement of indigenous peoples in the developing world, higher prices for food crops, and forest loss. In addition, the current policies provide few incentives for developing new biofuel technologies that would avoid such problems, the report says. “We want a more sophisticated strategy that considers the wider consequences of biofuel production,” said Joyce Tait, scientific advisor to Edinburgh University’s Innogen Centre and chairwoman of the study.