Crop Biotech Update

Paper Calls for Global Rules for Biofuels Industry

April 25, 2008
The ENN (Environmental News Network) website presents a summary of a paper by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) and the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). The paper entitled, “The Multilateral Trade and Investment Context for Biofuels: Issues and Challenges" discusses some factors influencing the long-term sustainability of the fast growing biofuel industry. Susan Murphy, IATP Senior Advisor and author, mentions that with the very fast-paced development of the biofuel industry, “governments, particularly at the global level have been slow to set rules to manage its growth”. The paper also “outlines the different interests of the largest global players in the biofuel market: United States, European Union, Brazil, as well as “analyzes biofuel trade within the context of World Trade Organization rules governing agriculture, environmental goods, services, patents and investment”.  Among the highlights of the paper are: (1) Answers to biofuel questions such as “acceptability of production and processing method as a basis for discrimination among goods”, and “the legitimacy of trade restrictive measures that support goals set in multilateral environmental agreements”, (2) Issues on biofuel feedstocks being generally energy-intensive, often using industrial monocultural production, and are exerting negative impacts on soil, water and ecological biodiversity, (3) “Investment from foreign firms seeking biofuel feedstock is also aggravating land disputes and intensifying the political fight to protect food security”, (4) The necessity to have multilateral discussion “to set trade and investment rules that support a fair and sustainable biofuel sector”..