Biofuel battle looms

The UK could be heading for a clash with the US, as criticism of biofuel potential gathers pace.

The rising cost of food and its connection with the increase in production of biofuels needs greater research, according to a government study.

The report, ahead of the annual G8 summit in Japan, said further investigation was needed into whether the production of biofuels was responsible for increasing food costs.

Gordon Brown is reported to be preparing for a potential clash with the US by calling for a moratorium on some biofuels. He is expected to draw on both the government study and a report by Ed Gallagher, chairman of the Renewable Fuels Agency, to call for a rethink over food production and biofuels. The government study also revealed that UK households throw away

4m tonnes of food a year, and Brown is calling on people to reduce their waste.

Further claims in the study said that up to 40% of food harvested in developing countries can be lost before it is consumed, due to the inadequacies of processing, storage and transport.

Brown said the G8 needed to agree a "global plan" to tackle the issue.

"That's why I am proposing that we take action to both increase the global supply of food and reduce unnecessary demand," he said.

"We will be discussing at the G8 how we can help Africa realise its great potential as a food producer and we would like to see production of key foodstuffs in Africa double over the next 5-10 years."

But he added: "If we are to get food prices down, we must also do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average household in Britain about £8 per week."

Friends of the Earth food campaigner Kirtana Chandrasekaran told the BBC tackling food waste was important, but only part of the solution. She called instead for changes to policies on biofuels and international trade.

She said there was "more and more evidence" that biofuels were bad for the environment, worsening climate change and leading to deforestation.

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