文章說政府的一份調查報告結果發現發展生物燃料對目前全球的食品價格大舉上揚有主要的關係。 《衛報》的報道說，這份將於下星期發表的名為加拉格爾的報告將促使英國以及歐洲重新審視他們研製和發展生物燃料的計劃。 文章說這項研究標誌著在利用生物燃料對付全球氣候變暖措施的戲劇性的轉變。
New study to force ministers to review climate change plan
Exclusive Official review admits biofuel role in food crisis
Britain and Europe will be forced to fundamentally rethink a central part of their environment strategy after a government report found that the rush to develop biofuels has played a "significant" role in the dramatic rise in global food prices, which has left 100 million more people without enough to eat.
The Gallagher report, due to be published next week, will trigger a review of British and EU targets for the use of plant-derived fuels in place of petrol and diesel, the Guardian has learned.
The study marks a dramatic reversal in the role of biofuels in the fight against global warming. As recently as last year, corn ethanol and biodiesel derived from vegetable oil were widely seen as important weapons in that fight - and a central plank of Gordon Brown's green strategy. Now even their environmental benefits are in question.
A panel of government experts, chaired by Professor Ed Gallagher, head of the Renewable Fuels Agency, has said that far more research is needed into the indirect impact of biofuels on land use and food production before the government sets targets for their use in transport.
The first such target is already in place. Since April, all petrol and diesel in Britain has had to contain 2.5% of biofuels, a stepping stone towards a 2010 target of 5%. The EU is contemplating a 10% target by 2010. The new report means all those goals will have to be reconsidered.
A government official familiar with the Gallagher review said: "Simply setting a target without stipulating what kind of biofuel is to be used in what circumstances can have all sorts of unintended consequences."
Another official said: "The review has thrown up the likelihood of significant impacts. UK and EU targets will have to be addressed."
The report says there is a place for biofuels, both as an alternative to fossil fuels and as a source of income for poor farmers with marginal lands. But it says a distinction must be drawn between "first-generation" biofuels, which use food crops such as corn, rapeseed, palm and soya, and experimental "second-generation" fuels based on fibrous non-food plants which could theoretically be grown without displacing other crops and raising food prices. Criteria to guide fuel policy would consequently have to be drawn up.
It was unclear yesterday whether Britain had left it too late to influence EU biofuel targets, after the government failed to raise objections in a succession of votes in European environment and industry committees. British officials believe the issue can still be revisited in Brussels.
The transport secretary, Ruth Kelly, ordered the review in February, at the height of the food price crisis, but the panel only began work in March and was asked to deliver its conclusions three months later. "There was so little time, I expected it would just be a review of the literature, but it has gone much further than I expected. It has substantive things to say," said a government official involved in drafting the report.
The role of biofuels, which pits concerns over climate change against the need for food security for vulnerable populations, was the most controversial issue at a summit on the food crisis earlier this month in Rome. The US and Brazil, both large-scale biofuel producers, argued fiercely against any hint of criticism of their cultivation in the conference's final statement, which called only for "in-depth studies".
An American claim that biofuels contributed less than 3% to food price rises was widely derided. The IMF estimates their impact as 20-30%, and other estimates are even higher. Over a third of US corn is used to produce ethanol, while about half of EU vegetable oils go towards the production of biodiesel.
After the Rome summit, a British government team involved in the Gallagher review visited the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to consult specialists who had drawn up UN recommendations on biofuel use. They emerged saying their views were "identical". The FAO recommendations advised against a moratorium on biofuel use or the continuation of "business as usual" under existing policies, calling instead for a set of international standards to ensure plant-derived ethanol and biodiesel did not harm the food supply. Keith Wiebe, a senior agricultural economist at the FAO, said: "There is a push towards the development of these liquid biofuels that is in advance of our understanding of their impact. We need to know more about those impacts, before pushing too hard."
The UN's World Food Programme has called the food crisis a "silent tsunami" which is pushing more than 100 million people worldwide into hunger.