Innogen · News · April 13, 2011

Current biofuel policies are unethical

GM Plants

Current UK and European polices on biofuels encourage unethical practices, says a report by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics launched today by Joyce Tait.

Nuffield Council on Bioethics 
The report 'Biofuels: ethical issues' follows an 18-month inquiry, led by members of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Working Party on Biofuels including Prof Joyce Tait and Prof Joanna Chataway.


“Biofuels are one of the only renewable alternatives we have for transport fuels such as petrol and diesel, but current policies and targets that encourage their uptake have backfired badly,” said Joyce Tait. “The rapid expansion of biofuels production in the developing world has led to problems such as deforestation and the displacement of indigenous people. We want a more sophisticated strategy that considers the wider consequences of biofuel production.”


The report recommends a set of overarching ethical conditions for all biofuels produced in and imported into Europe, including:



  1. Biofuels development should not be at the expense of human rights

  2. Biofuels should be environmentally sustainable

  3. Biofuels should contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

  4. Biofuels should adhere to fair trade principles

  5. Costs and benefits of biofuels should be distributed in an equitable way


For more information:


Biofuels: full report (PDF 2.7 MB)

Biofuels: executive summary (PDF 274 KB)

Biofuels: short guide (PDF 395 KB)

Biofuels: key recommendations (PDF 138 KB)


Nuffield Council on Bioethics full press release