Reply To: Protest EU biofuel encouraging deforestation Jan 07


For immediate release – 13th August 2007
Joint Press Release by Biofuelwatch, Ecological Internet and
Rainforest Rescue

Biofuel expansion threatens Europe’s wildlife as agricultural set-
asides are to be scrapped

Millions of farm birds could be left without enough food and
breeding sites next spring if plans to scrap Europe’s agricultural
land set-aside targets for next year go ahead, warn environmental
groups. Plans to set a zero set-aside targets from October this
year have been announced by the EU Commissioner for Agriculture,
Mariann Fischer-Boel, as a response to rising food prices. Those
plans are to be ratified by ministers this autumn. Several studies
confirm that set-asides have become a vital habitat for many of
Europe’s endangered birds and insects, and that farm birds have
declined by nearly 50% on average since 1980. Over 5300 people
have written to European politicians this month, asking for the
plans to be dropped and supporting a moratorium on biofuel targets.

Glen Barry, Director of Ecological Internet explains: “Dramatic
declines in insect, bird and wild flower populations show that many
of Europe’s ecosystems are under extreme stress from intensive
agriculture and climate change. Our future depends on protecting
healthy ecosystems. We need real cuts in greenhouse gas emissions,
with massive cuts in energy use as well as truly sustainable
renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. More intensively
farmed monocultures cannot be part of the solution.”

Almuth Ernsting from Biofuelwatch adds “There is no doubt that the
expansion in biofuels is pushing up food prices. The European
Union are committed to stopping biodiversity losses by 2010 but
those plans will almost certainly make this impossible. Our birds
and insects must not be sacrificed for biofuel expansion. We need
a moratorium on EU biofuel targets and incentives now – and we need
to keep our set asides until they can be replaced with better
environmental safeguards.”

Few environmental NGOs regard the current set-aside system, as
being the ideal instrument for protecting farmland biodiversity,
although it provides a safety net for many species. Many NGOs hope
that a ‘health check’ of the Common Agricultural Policy in 2008
will lead to more targeted environmental safeguards. However,
there are widespread concerns that sudden scrapping of all set-
aside targets without any replacement or reform will devastate bird
and insect populations.

According to Reinhard Behrend from Rainforest Rescue, Germany,
“biofuel expansion is already causing rainforest destruction and
the displacement of large numbers of communities in the global
South. At the same time, poor people are hit hardest by rising
food prices whilst Europe burns more and more food in cars. The
only logical solution is to suspend biofuel targets, whilst
drastically reducing our overall fuel use.”


Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch, info[at], UK –
Tel 0044-(1)224-324797 or 0044 (1)224-7925 364186

Glen Barry, Ecological Internet, US,
GlenBarry[at] -Tel 001-920 776 1075


1. For further details of the organisations involved see:
Ecological Internet: http://www.EcoEarth.Info
Rainforest Rescue:

2. An email action alert against the planned abolition of set-
aside targets for 2008 and for a moratorium on EU biofuel targets
has been signed by over 5300 individuals and can be found at
and .

3. A call for a Moratorium on EU biofuel targets and incentives,
and on large-scale monocultures for bioenergy in Europe has been
signed by 152 organisations from the global North and South. The
text and the list of signatories can be found at [/quote]