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Scrap biofuel support to curb food costs

BRUSSELS – Governments should scrap policies to support biofuels because they are forcing up global food prices, according to a report by 10 international agencies including the World Bank and World Trade Organization.

The report adds to growing opposition to biofuels targets and subsidies such as those in Europe, Canada, India and the United States.

“If oil prices are high and a crop’s value in the energy market exceeds that in the food market, crops will be diverted to the production of biofuels, which will increase the price of food,” said the report.

“Changes in the price of oil can be abrupt and may cause increased food price volatility,” said the report.

Prepared at the request of the Group of 20 major economies, the report addressed price volatility in food and agriculture, and its authors also included experts from the World Food Program, International Monetary Fund, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

France has made tackling food price volatility a priority of its G20 Presidency in 2011 and is leading efforts in Europe to crack down on speculation in commodities markets, which it blames for rising food prices.

G20 agriculture ministers will meet in Paris on June 22-23 to discuss possible policy responses, ranging from increasing market transparency to limiting the speculative positions taken by traders in commodities markets.

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