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Germany: International conference discusses biofuel

More than 1,500 agricultural experts met at the first International Conference of Ministers of Agriculture in Germany this month to discuss the subject of global competition for agricultural raw materials.

Germany’s federal ministry of agriculture and the Berlin senator for economics, as well as 650 members of official government delegations from 36 countries and 32 ministers and under-secretaries attended the conference, which marked the start of the International Green Week at Messe Berlin, on January 19. Among other questions, the conference focused on the question: how can the growing world population be fed, while more bio-energy is being generated at the same time?

Horst Seehofer, the federal minister for agriculture, said at the opening of the event in the ICC Berlin: “The trade in agricultural raw materials is more intense now than it has ever been. Energy and foodstuffs have now become items of strategic importance.” However, the demand for bio-energy in Europe should not lead to the felling of forests in developing countries, or land devoted to food production being taken out of use. Environmental and social standards must still be maintained both in our own production and when importing biomass, the minister said.

Under-secretary Jean-Marie Aurand from the French ministry of agriculture spoke in favor of the use of soils unsuitable for agriculture, agricultural waste and by-products from the production of livestock feeds for the generation of bio-energy. Intensified research work, especially on biofuels of the so-called second generation, should be carried out in order to make the generation of bio-energy more diversified and more efficient, she said.

The Russian minister of agriculture, Alexej Gordejew, felt that there should be no problem with a shortage of land and the competition between generating foodstuffs and generating energy since “we are currently surrounded by a surplus of resources.” He took Russia as an example, and said that the country had sufficient reserves to enable it to expand its production of bio-products. (Farming UK)