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Making biofuels could lower food production

High fossil fuel costs could lower food production in Switzerland if there were a switch to growing crops for biofuels, according to a study.

This content was published on April 17, 2008 - 11:50

A report by researchers at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich says that such a situation could happen if the price of diesel were more than SFr2.30 ($2.30) per litre and petrol more than SFr2.70.

In their study, published on Thursday by the Federal Agriculture Office, they explain that in such a situation the surface area for production of biodiesel from Swiss rape and ethanol from maize would become "significant".

It would claim 153,000 hectares or 15 per cent of arable land, to the detriment of food production.

The research, carried out against an intensive debate worldwide on biofuels and sharp price increases for food, found that if fuel costs exceeded SFr3.70 per litre, bioenergy production would require 80 per cent of Swiss arable land.

It said that such a production level would have a limited effect in energy terms, providing the equivalent of only eight per cent of the total Swiss consumption of fossil energy.

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