The European Parliament has decided to back proposals which would limit the use of food crops in the production of biofuel products.
Biofuels are seen as an alternative to traditional fossil fuels, which are growing scarcer and rising in price. This alternative source of energy comes from biological means -- including crops, waste and seaweed -- but vast amounts of space and produce are often required to produce viable fuel suitable for commercial purposes.
MEPs say that the use of "first-generation" biofuels -- including corn, sugarcane and soya -- should not exceed six percent of transport by 2020, a reduction of the original ten percent limit. Instead, government officials say that "advanced biofuels" -- including seaweed and waste -- should bridge the gap and make up at least 2.5 percent.
A legislative report (.pdf) submitted by Corinne Lepage, a French liberal MEP, argues that the limit should be in place to prevent impacting food production for an ever-increasing human population. MEPs voted 356 votes to 327 to support the proposal.
Before becoming law, the 28 European member states must agree to the changes.
According to Greenpeace, 60 percent of the E.U.'s rapeseed crop is used for biofuels, and the United States uses up 40 percent of its annual corn yield for ethanol.
The European Renewable Ethanol Association (ePURE) argues that biofuel crops are not impacting food production, and such claims are exaggerated.
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