Wednesday, June 29, 2011

UK Parliament: key recent references to biofuels and biomass


Environment Food and Rural Affairs

Written answers and statements, 28 June 2011

Photo of Caroline Spelman

Caroline Spelman (Secretary of State, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Meriden, Conservative)

The House will be aware that on 22 and 23 June, France as presidency of the G20, convened the first ever meeting at G20 level of Agriculture Ministers, to consider an action plan on food price volatility and agriculture.

The action plan which we agreed recognises that market fundamentals—supply and demand—are the key causes of price volatility in wheat, corn, maize and soya and that both increasing production sustainably and reducing shocks to supply such as those caused when policymakers respond to poor quality information are the means to ensure a healthier relationship of supply to rising demand.

We emphasised the need to trade openly and remove distorting measures, and that export bans in particular should not impede calls for humanitarian aid.

We are taking steps to improve market information and transparency, by establishing an agricultural market information system (AMIS) in order to encourage major players on the agri-food markets to share data, to enhance existing information systems, to promote greater

shared understanding of food price developments, and further policy dialogue and co-operation. G20 countries committed to disclose reliable, quality, accurate and timely data for this initiative.

We also agreed to establish a senior officials' group to act as a "Rapid Response Forum", to share views and plans for immediate actions in order to prevent or mitigate world food price crises. Taken together with the improvement in market information which we anticipate that AMIS will bring, this improved co-ordination should reduce the extent to which G20 members are themselves the source of avoidable supply shocks in future, as happens for example when panic buying takes place or export restrictions are imposed.

G20 Ministers committed themselves to implementing a broad scope of actions to boost agricultural growth, including a strengthening of agricultural research and innovation. In particular, we launched an international research initiative for wheat improvement to co-ordinate our efforts on this major crop for food security.

We recognised the need for further analysis of the relationships between biofuels production and food availability and price volatility, as well as potential policy responses.

Finally, we welcomed and endorsed the importance of the work of the G20's development working group—on risk management and the potential use of pre-deployed emergency food stocks—and that of G20 Finance Ministers on financial regulation.


International Development

Written answers and statements, 27 June 2011

Photo of Catherine McKinnell

Catherine McKinnell (Newcastle upon Tyne North, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what recent assessment his Department has made of the effects of biofuel production on developing countries; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Stephen O'Brien

Stephen O'Brien (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, International Development; Eddisbury, Conservative)

The Department for International Development recognises the need for the UK and developing countries to balance the competing demands on land for fuel and food. We also recognise the need to ensure that bio-energy production does not jeopardise food security of poor people in developing countries.

DFID encourages the development of biofuels in consumer and producer countries which is compatible with a broader development agenda. Together with other Government Departments, DFID has been successful in ensuring that UK and EC policy takes into account the impact (positive and negative) of biofuels on developing countries.


Energy and Climate Change

Written answers and statements, 27 June 2011

Photo of William BainWilliam Bain (Glasgow North East, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change if he will estimate the requirement for planting of new trees to meet demand for biomass electricity generation in the next four financial years.

Photo of Charles Hendry

Charles Hendry (Minister of State (Renewable Energy), Energy and Climate Change; Wealden, Conservative)

A wide range of biomass feedstocks can be used for electricity generation. Dry agricultural residues such as straw can be combusted to generate electricity. Wet biomass residues such as food waste, sewage and manure can be processed in an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant to produce biogas. Woodfuel can be sourced from timber processing residues, such as off-cuts and sawdust, and by diverting waste wood from landfill, as well as from small round-wood and thinnings from sustainably managed forests. Perennial energy crops, such as miscanthus grass and short rotation coppice (SRC) willow which can be cultivated on farmland unsuitable for food crops, can provide a fast-growing source of biomass fuel.

We expect large-scale biomass electricity to be primarily fuelled by imports, and that the global supply market will respond to the growth of renewable energy in this country and worldwide.

Whether biomass feedstocks for energy are sourced from a forest, farm or elsewhere and whether it is homegrown or imported, it is essential that they are sustainably sourced. Therefore in April, we introduced a requirement to report on sustainability criteria under the Renewables Obligation (RO). These criteria include a minimum greenhouse gas lifecycle saving of 60% compared to fossil fuel, which considers the cultivation, processing and transport of the feedstock, and general restrictions on using biomass sourced from areas important on carbon or biodiversity grounds such as primary forests.

We intend, from April 2013, that biomass electricity plants of 1 MWe or above will be required to meet the sustainability criteria to receive financial support under the RO.

In addition, the Government recognises that with one of the lowest levels of woodland cover in Europe, England's natural environment needs more trees and woodlands. The Forestry Commission is working with other Government Departments and many stakeholder groups through the Woodland Carbon Task Force to provide frameworks to enable the use of private finance and public engagement to expand woodland cover and to increase the benefits that can be derived from them.

During 2011-12 the Forestry Commission intends to distribute a further £30.6 million as part of the woodland related components of the Rural Development Programme for England of which £14.9 million will support woodland expansion.

Forestry Commission Scotland recognises that forestry can make a significant contribution to mitigating the effects of climate change and meeting the Scottish Government's targets for renewable energy. To support this, during 2011-12 Forestry Commission Scotland intends to distribute a further £36 million as part of the woodland related components in the Rural Priorities schemes of the Scottish Rural Development Programme, of which £30 million has been allocated to support approved proposals for woodland creation and sustainable forest management.


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European airlines & EU signed up yesterday to producing two million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by 2020

Airlines in EU biofuels pact to cut pollution

European airlines, biofuel producers and the European Commission signed up yesterday (22 June) to producing two million tonnes of biofuel for aviation by 2020 even as debate rages over how green such fuels actually are. 

Airlines are keen to use biofuels as a way of cutting down on pollution from jet fuel but the use of food crops, such as palm oil, in their production has come under fire for taking land that could be used to grow food to feed people.

A report by 10 international agencies including the World Bank and World Trade Organisation earlier this month said governments should scrap policies to support biofuels, because they are forcing up global food prices.

Involved in the project signed on Wednesday are planemaker Airbus, airlines Air France-KLM , British Airways and Lufthansa and biofuel producers including Neste Oil.

Aware of the debate surrounding first-generation biofuels, participants at the Paris air show were keen to show a focus on what they feel are more sustainable crops.

Lufthansa says jatropha is its crop of choice and plans to trial a biofuel mix on flights between Frankfurt and Hamburg for six months once certification has been received.

Under a deal with Neste, the mix it uses can be produced from palm oil but biofuels director Joachim Buse told Reuters there was a process to replace palm oil with other sources.

US firm Honeywell, which used biofuel produced by its UOP unit to fly a business jet from North America to Europe, said it uses camelina.

"It's rotated with wheat, and replaces weeds used during the fallow season, so no food production is displaced," Jim Anderson, business director for UOP, said.

"We don't want to compete with food stock, so that's been a focus for us," he said.

However, campaigners from Friends of the Earth say that camelina still competes with food crops and that it is especially concerned by jathropha driving land-grabbing in Africa and India, especially given the amounts of fuel required by the aviation industry.

"The World Bank and OECD have recommended removing support for biofuels, yet the aviation industry continues obliviously," Robbie Blake from Friends of the Earth Europe said.

"It would be irresponsible to grow enormous amounts of crops and grab land to fuel flights, rather than to feed the hungry," he added.

British Airways, meanwhile, is looking at deriving fuel from waste and hopes to power its fleet using the fuel from 2015.

Bill Gates-backed Sapphire Energy is focusing on using algae to create biofuel, which it says does not require arable land or potable water thus avoiding the fresh water resources or lands needed to grow food crops.

"We believe we have crossed the technology threshold. The problem we're facing is the incredible volumes required to sate the industry," CEO Jason Pyle said.

As it is only in the early stage of development, algae is unlikely to make any contribution towards the 2020 targets signed on Wednesday.

"Algae is promising but it will take another 10 years," Lufthansa's Buse said. 

EurActiv with Reuters

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BBC overruled by BBC Trust over "sustainable" palm oil claims

From, published today (each page number refers to the subsequent section).

May 2011 issued June 2011 43

Britain's Really Disgusting Food: Dairy, BBC Three, 9

November 2009

1. The programme

First broadcast on BBC Three on 9 November 2009 and repeated through to June 2010,

this was the second in a series of programmes looking at the manufacture of food. The

series covered meat, dairy and fish.

2. The complaint

This was the second episode in the series, covering the dairy industry. It contained a 12-

minute item by reporter Alex Riley looking at the issue of palm oil production and its use

in food such as chocolate. The complainant said that the references in the programme to

"sustainable" palm oil being "orang-utan friendly" and "100% sustainable" were

inaccurate and not impartial.

Stage 1

The complainant first wrote to BBC Audience Services on 16 December 2009. He said that

the programme had rightly highlighted the harm being caused by palm oil but said the

description of "sustainable" palm oil as "100 % orang-utan friendly" and "100%

sustainable" was "...unsubstantiated, biased and partisan..."

The complainant said that the more palm oil was consumed, the more new plantations

had to be constructed and that much of the land used for new plantations was biodiverse

forest since palm oil required land in a moist equatorial climate. A substantial part of the

new land taken was peatland, which progressively released large quantities of CO2 over

many years of cultivation.

The complainant said that it appeared that the programme referred to palm oil certified

by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). He said that the RSPO did not

currently stop its members participating in the replacement of forest with plantations to

produce non-RSPO oil. Oil palms planted on peatland, which progressively released large

quantities of CO2 over many years of cultivation, could qualify for RSPO certification. Palm

oil from existing plantations merely had to fulfil technical standards to qualify as RSPOcertified.

The complainant said this did little or nothing to change the patterns of

expansion of plantations overall to meet rising overall demand. The complainant said the

unsustainability of palm oil and threat to orang-utans were a consequence of its overall

expansion. Orang-utans were not able to live in the middle of a palm oil plantation.

The complainant concluded by saying that an internet search would have brought up

many articles by critics of the RSPO. He added that 200 smaller NGOs had signed an

International Declaration Against the Greenwashing of Palm Oil by the Roundtable on

Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The complainant included a transcript of relevant parts of the programme that were part

of his complaint.

BBC Audience Services replied to the complainant on 6 February 2010 acknowledging his

letter but responding to another complaint that the complainant had made in his letter of

16 December 2009 about an item on the BBC News website. The complainant replied to

BBC Audience Services on 13 February 2010 informing them that they had not responded

to his original complaint.

BBC Audience Services replied to the complainant on 11 March 2010 including a response

from Lisa Dunn, Series Producer of the programme. The Series Producer said that the

programme had set out to raise awareness that palm oil production could be hugely

May 2011 issued June 2011 44

damaging to the environment; that it was very common in many products consumed in

the West; and that consumers rarely saw palm oil labelled as such.

The Series Producer said that the certified sustainable palm oil featured in the programme

could not be made by clearing forest, as opposed to RSPO plantations which could be

cleared. She asked if the complainant had confused palm oil from RSPO members and

RSPO certified sustainable palm oil. She said there was a difference between palm oil

from palm oil producers that were members of the RSPO (which may be from non

sustainable sources) and RSPO certified sustainable palm oil. "If the standards of certified

sustainable palm oil are correctly enforced this should not damage Orang-utan habitat."

The Series Producer added that certified sustainable palm oil should change the industry's

pattern of expansion as it did not allow the construction of new plantations on rainforest.

She agreed with the complainant that this had no impact on the palm oil plantations

which had already been made by clearing out the rainforest.

The Series Producer concluded that all the conservationists the programme had spoken to

believed that calling for a total ban of palm oil, which would be the best option for the

environment, would be a waste of time as it would never happen. "The RSPO certified

sustainable palm oil would seem to be the best realistic option."

The Series Producer acknowledged there were legitimate questions to be asked about the

RSPO organisation but she said she would draw a distinction between palm oil from palm

oil producers that are members of the RSPO and RSPO certified sustainable palm oil.

The complainant replied to BBC Audience Services on 19 March 2010. He said that the

response from the Series Producer of the programme had not addressed his complaint.

There was no response as to how the programme substantiated its claims, or how

alternative points of views were discounted.

The complainant acknowledged that the programme did not specifically call RSPO palm oil

"100% orang-utan friendly" as he had previously stated but he said it did refer to the

RSPO palm oil as "orang-utan friendly" without qualification, with associated imagery to

illustrate this as well as banner captions "…and unequivocally portrays it as the best

solution for saving the orang-utan and the rainforest, if only more companies could be

persuaded to pay the small premium for it."

The complainant said that his complaint about claims being made about RSPO

certification had been sidestepped. He added that his original complaint had pointed out

the difference between palm oil from RSPO members and RSPO certified palm oil, which

the Series Producer wondered if he had confused. He said the programme did not address

the problems of why RSPO certified "sustainable" palm oil was likely to do little to change

the pattern of expansion in the industry. He outlined several reasons.

The complainant asked if the programme makers, who in their response to him said that

RSPO certified sustainable palm oil seemed to be the best realistic option, were saying

that switching to RSPO certified palm oil was not "100% sustainable" and not "orang-utan

friendly", without qualifications. If that was the case, he believed his complaint was

vindicated. If not, he asked why had the programme makers used language which did not

appear in the programme.

The complainant added that Greenpeace did not agree that RSPO certification was the

best realistic option and had put forward many alternative options to seeking RSPO

certified palm oil. The complainant concluded that instead of presenting several different

options, the programme "… made over-egged claims for just one potential remedy".

May 2011 issued June 2011 45

BBC Audience Services replied to the complainant on 24 March 2010, including a second

response from the programme's Series Producer.

The Series Producer said the food series, which had been broadcast on BBC Three, was a

series with a mischievous and irreverent tone, designed to appeal to a younger audience.

She said the palm oil item was 12 minutes long and, given the short amount of time and

the complexity of the surrounding issues, it was not possible to explore in greater detail

all the issues about sustainability and palm oil.

"Our main aim was to get across a key point, that palm oil is being used in most

chocolate, unbeknown to most consumers, as it's only listed as vegetable oil on

the ingredients."

The Series Producer said the programme went on to show that although sustainable palm

oil was available, the industry did not use it as it was more expensive "…therefore

establishing that profit was more important than environmental concerns".

The Series Producer said the programme obtained a commitment from the confectionery

company Mars to move to using sustainable palm oil in their products. She said that at no

point did the reporter claim that the sustainable palm oil was 100% sustainable. She said

the term "100% sustainable" was used on two occasions and set these out. She added

that on both occasions the reporter was specifically referring to Mars' stated aim to move

towards ensuring that 100% of the palm oil used in their products would come from

sustainable sources. She added that the reporter was not saying that sustainable palm oil

was 100% sustainable.

The Series Producer acknowledged that the programme did say that sustainable palm oil

was orang-utan friendly, and added that in broad terms it was. "If the standards of

Certified Sustainable palm oil are correctly enforced this should not lead to further

damage of the remaining orang-utan habitat." She added that in substantiating this claim,

the programme makers had spoken to WWF, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and a

specialist journalist. She also quoted from the WWF website.

The Series Producer agreed that the RSPO had been criticised for some "loopholes"

including their stance on allowing members to continue to source and produce non

sustainable palm oil. But she added that in a short 12 minute item, the programme

focussed on the broader issues of sustainable palm oil. She said the same NGOs were

clear that using RSPO certified sustainable palm oil was helping to stop the extinction of

orang-utans. She said there was no mention of the RSPO in the item apart from the

reporter reading out the statement from Mars, which she quoted.

The Series Producer said it was not possible to provide the level of detail the complainant

had complained about in a multi-item film. She said the programme was trying to draw

the audience to the subject in an accessible way. She said that Greenpeace had welcomed

Nestlé agreeing to stop using palm oil and to use only sustainably sourced palm oil by


The Series Producer said that in an interview with Greenpeace their spokesman had said

that they had to be realistic as palm oil use was so widespread and in many products. The

spokesman added that it could be produced sustainably and needed only one big supplier

to become a preferred supplier for supermarkets for there to be a domino effect within

the industry and this was the kind of model the industry should be working towards. The

Series Producer added that Greenpeace's position on the RSPO was neutral.

Stage 2

May 2011 issued June 2011 46

The complainant wrote to the Editorial Complaints Unit (ECU), the second stage of the

BBC's Complaints Procedure, on 6 July 2010. The Head of Editorial Complaints, ECU

replied to the complainant on 9 August 2010 saying he would consider the complaint.

The Head of the ECU provided his full response to the complainant on 4 October 2010.

The complaint was considered in relation to the Editorial Guidelines, in particular the

guideline on accuracy. The complaint was not upheld on the following grounds:

The Head of the ECU said he understood the complaint to be that the

programme's references to "sustainable" palm oil (i.e. RSPO certified palm oil)

as "orang-utan friendly" and "100 % sustainable" were significantly

misleading. The Head of the ECU said that the reporter did not say that any

variety of palm oil was 100% sustainable, therefore he was not able to uphold

that aspect of the complaint.

The Head of the ECU accepted there were serious questions about the degree

to which the RSPO certification scheme assisted in the conservation of habitat

but he added that the programme did not refer to (or set out to assess the

merits of) any particular scheme and limited itself to the suggestion that

sustainable production of palm oil would reduce pressure on orang-utan


"I would consider this suggestion to be misleading if it could be said that there

were no realistic prospect of moving towards genuine sustainability in palm oil

production, but it seems that even those who are critical of the RSPO scheme

…don't take that view."

The Head of the ECU went on to quote the interview with the Greenpeace

spokesperson, quoted in the Series Producer's second response to the

complainant. He considered it was a fair representation of what had been said,

and that he could not uphold this aspect of the complaint.

The Head of the ECU said that as he was not able to find a breach of the

guidelines on accuracy, the question of whether the programme contained

inaccuracies which gave rise to bias did not arise. But he added he was left in

no doubt that the topic of sustainability in relation to palm oil production was a

potentially controversial one.

The complainant replied on 18 October 2010, asking for the decision to be reconsidered.

The complainant said the programme stated more than once that the "sustainable palm

oil" that had already been delivered to the UK was "orang-utan friendly." He said that the

"sustainable" palm oil was RSPO certified palm oil, although the programme did not

mention this. The complainant asked how it was valid for the programme to state that the

palm oil which had been imported into Hull and which was offered to Mars was orangutan

friendly, simply because they hadn't mentioned it was RSPO-certified? RSPO was the

only "sustainable" certified/labelled palm oil that had been promoted in the UK at the time

the programme was broadcast (as opposed to products containing palm oil being

described as ethically sourced).

The complainant quoted the reporter who had said, after meeting the representative from

AAK (a vegetable oil refiner), that using palm oil would cost them half a pence more per


The complainant said the programme painted the picture that if companies could move

faster to using "100% sustainable palm oil" in their products, the deforestation/orangutan

issue could be solved. The Greenpeace model for promoting the source of palm oil

from sustainable sources was not the same model as the RSPO which WWF supported.

May 2011 issued June 2011 47

The complainant added that the programme makers failed in "impartiality and diversity of

opinion" by not reporting dissent of any kind from the model they presented of seeking to

promote the purchase/use of palm oil that had been certified "sustainable".

The complainant considered the reference to "100% sustainable palm oil" was

"ambiguous and therefore misleading".

The complainant wrote again to the ECU on 3 December 2010 asking about the status of

his complaint. The Head of the ECU replied to the complainant on 17 December 2010

saying that the points the complainant had made would have had force only in a context

where a particular sustainability scheme had been identified and where its merits were at

issue. The Head of the ECU said that as the programme did not identify a particular

scheme, the validity of the complainant's criticisms of the scheme the programme makers

had in mind went to an issue which would not have arisen in the minds of viewers.

The Head of the ECU added that the complainant's criticisms would potentially have had

force if deployed in favour of the stronger claim that no current scheme yielded or offered

the prospect of yielding "orang-utan friendly" results, but in view of the comments from

the Greenpeace spokesman this was not a claim that he would support. The Head of the

ECU also said that he disagreed with the complainant's final point. He said it did not seem

to him to be the natural interpretation of the phrases used in the programme which

clearly had the sense of "... moving towards 100% use of sustainable palm oil, rather

than the sense of moving toward the use of palm oil which is 100% sustainable".

Appeal to the BBC Trust

The complainant emailed the BBC Trust Unit on 14 January 2011 appealing against the

ECU decision on the grounds that the programme was inaccurate and not impartial.

The complainant raised the following points in relation to the impartiality and accuracy of

the programme:

1. Whether it was duly accurate to describe the palm oil used in the programme as

"sustainable" and "orang-utan friendly" without qualification.

2. Whether the programme failed to be duly impartial in that it did not include critical

views of the RSPO model.

3. Whether the programme was misleading with regard to the reference to "100%

sustainable palm oil".

3. Applicable Editorial Guidelines

The complaint was judged against the 2005-2010 Editorial Guidelines which were in force

at the time.

Section 3 – Accuracy

The BBC's commitment to accuracy is a core editorial value and fundamental to our

reputation. Our output must be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested

and presented in clear, precise language. We should be honest and open about what we

don't know and avoid unfounded speculation.

For the BBC accuracy is more important than speed and it is often more than a question

of getting the facts right. All the relevant facts and information should be weighed to get

at the truth. If an issue is controversial, relevant opinions as well as facts may need to be


We aim to achieve it by:

May 2011 issued June 2011 48

the accurate gathering of material using first hand sources wherever possible.

checking and cross checking the facts.

validating the authenticity of documentary evidence and digital material.

corroborating claims and allegations made by contributors wherever possible.


We should try to witness events and gather information first hand.

Where this is not possible, we should talk to first hand sources and, where necessary,

corroborate their evidence.

We should be reluctant to rely on a single source. If we do rely on a single source,

a named on the record source is always preferable.

We should normally only rely on an agency report if it can be substantiated by

a BBC correspondent or if it is attributed to a reputable

national or international news agency.

We should record our interviews with sources wherever possible.

In circumstances where recording might inhibit the source, full notes should be made,

preferably at the time, or if not, then as soon as possible afterwards.


We should not distort known facts, present invented material as fact, or knowingly do

anything to mislead our audiences. We may need to label material to avoid doing so.

Section 4 – Impartiality

Impartiality lies at the heart of the BBC's commitment to its audiences. It applies across

all of our services and output, whatever the format, from radio news bulletins via our web

sites to our commercial magazines and includes a commitment to reflecting a diversity of


The Agreement accompanying the BBC's Charter requires us to produce comprehensive,

authoritative and impartial coverage of news and current affairs in the UK and throughout

the world to support fair and informed debate. It specifies that we should do all we can to

treat controversial subjects with due accuracy and impartiality in our news services and

other programmes dealing with matters of public policy or of political or industrial

controversy. It also states that the BBC is forbidden from expressing an opinion on current

affairs or matters of public policy other than broadcasting.

In practice, our commitment to impartiality means:

we seek to provide a properly balanced service consisting of a wide range of

subject matter and views broadcast over an appropriate time scale across all of

our output. We take particular care when dealing with political or industrial

controversy or major matters relating to current public policy.

we strive to reflect a wide range of opinion and explore a range and conflict of

views so that no significant strand of thought is knowingly unreflected or

under represented.

May 2011 issued June 2011 49

we exercise our editorial freedom to produce content about any subject, at any

point on the spectrum of debate, as long as there are good editorial reasons

for doing so.

we can explore or report on a specific aspect of an issue or provide an

opportunity for a single view to be expressed, but in doing so we do not

misrepresent opposing views. They may also require a right of reply.

we must ensure we avoid bias or an imbalance of views on controversial


the approach to, and tone of, BBC stories must always reflect our editorial

values. Presenters, reporters and correspondents are the public face and voice

of the BBC, they can have a significant impact on the perceptions of our


our journalists and presenters, including those in news and current affairs, may

provide professional judgments but may not express personal opinions on

matters of public policy or political or industrial controversy. Our audiences

should not be able to tell from BBC programmes or other BBC output the

personal views of our journalists and presenters on such matters.

we offer artists, writers and entertainers scope for individual expression in

drama, arts and entertainment and we seek to reflect a wide range of talent

and perspective.

we will sometimes need to report on or interview people whose views may

cause serious offence to many in our audiences. We must be convinced, after

appropriate referral, that a clear public interest outweighs the possible offence.

we must rigorously test contributors expressing contentious views during an

interview whilst giving them a fair chance to set out their full response to our


we should not automatically assume that academics and journalists from other

organisations are impartial and make it clear to our audience when

contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint.

Achieving Impartiality

Impartiality must be adequate and appropriate to our output. Our approach to achieving it

will therefore vary according to the nature of the subject, the type of output, the likely

audience expectation and the extent to which the content and approach is signposting.

Impartiality is described in the Agreement as "due impartiality". It requires us to be fair

and open minded when examining the evidence and weighing all the material facts, as

well as being objective and even handed in our approach to a subject. It does not require

the representation of every argument or facet of every argument on every occasion or an

equal division of time for each view.

4. The Committee's decision

The Committee considered the complaint against the relevant editorial standards, as set

out in the BBC's Editorial Guidelines (2005–2010 version). The guidelines are a statement

of the BBC's values and standards.

In reaching its decision the Committee took full account of all the available evidence,

including (but not limited to) the Editorial Adviser's report and the subsequent

submissions from the complainant and the BBC.

May 2011 issued June 2011 50

This appeal raised issues requiring consideration of the guidelines relating to Accuracy and



The Committee began by looking at whether it was duly accurate to describe the palm oil

used in the programme as "sustainable" and "orang-utan friendly" without qualification.

The Committee noted that the only palm oil branded as sustainable and being imported to

the United Kingdom was that certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)

and that the BBC had acknowledged that the tanker of palm oil used in the programme

had been certified by the RSPO.

The Committee also acknowledged that there had been and continues to be criticism of

the RSPO by green pressure groups over its certification process and its ability to monitor

and promote sustainability within the palm oil industry. As a result, it noted that, while the

RSPO might be the best option for achieving sustainable palm oil production in the future,

question marks remained over whether the palm oil it was currently certifying as

sustainable was stopping the deforestation and habitat destruction that was threatening

the survival of species like the orang-utan.

The Committee then considered the response of the BBC that the reason the remarks

about the sustainability of palm oil and its impact on orang-utans were not qualified was

because the piece was a short item for a BBC Three audience, and that they were

attempting to put across other key messages on a complex issue.

The Committee acknowledged that the primary aim of this item in the programme was to

make viewers aware that most chocolate was produced using palm oil, unbeknown to the

majority of consumers as it is only listed as vegetable oil on the ingredients, and that this

has environmental consequences unless a sustainable palm oil is used. The Committee

also noted that the programme was campaigning in style.

However, the Committee felt that, while well intentioned and informative for a younger

audience, the programme should have provided a more thorough explanation of the

complexities of this issue given the item was 12 minutes in duration. As a result, it agreed

that concerns about the sustainability of the palm oil used in the programme and its

ability to help the orang-utan should have been alluded to. By failing to do so, the

programme had not been duly accurate.

The Committee then went on to examine whether the programme was misleading with

regard to the reference to "100% sustainable palm oil".

The Committee noted that the presenter had said:

"You know what. They're probably sitting there thinking how are we going to get

to 100% sustainable palm oil. We don't even know where to get it from. We turn

up. We can help them. Job done."

The Committee noted that the complainant took this to mean the palm oil in the tanker

was completely sustainable palm oil which, in the light of the known issues concerning the

sustainability of palm oil certified by the RSPO, could not be the case. However, it also

noted that the BBC believed it was clear that this reference was to the aim of the

confectionery company Mars of only using palm oil which is sustainable.

The Committee's view was that, while this phrase was possibly open to interpretation, the

presenter had made it sufficiently clear that he was referring to Mars' aim to move to

using only sustainable palm oil. The Committee concluded that there had been no breach

of the accuracy guideline with regard to this line in the script.

May 2011 issued June 2011 51


The Committee then went on to consider whether the programme failed to be duly

impartial by not including views critical of the RSPO model.

The Committee noted that the only palm oil branded sustainable that was entering the UK

was that certified by the RSPO. However, it noted that the BBC had only mentioned the

RSPO in the programme in relation to Mars. The Committee considered the content of the

programme and concluded that the programme was not seeking to highlight or promote

any specific sustainability scheme with the tanker of oil that it used. The Committee's

view was that the inclusion of voices critical of the RSPO model was not required in order

to achieve impartiality. The Committee concluded that the programme had not failed to be

duly impartial by not including such views given the primary purpose of the piece.

Finding: Upheld in part with regard to accuracy. Not upheld with regard to

[Chapter ends]

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Wood pellets from southeastern US exported to Europe

an exploding market in Europe is one reason for opening the wood pellet plant"

Wood pellet manufacturers setting up shop in southeastern Va., N.C.

Published 10:28am Saturday, June 25, 2011

Editor's Note: This is the first in a six-part series that focuses on the growing wood pellet industry in southeastern Virginia and northeast North Carolina.

FRANKLIN—Within 18 months, three companies announced plans to open four wood-pellet manufacturing facilities within the region, including at the former International Paper mill in Franklin.

A demand for wood pellets for generating electricity in Europe, the availability of the southern yellow pine and Western Tidewater's proximity to the Atlantic ports seem to be the driving force.

"We're seeing a good number of plants being built, particularly in the southeastern United States," said Jason Berthiaume, membership coordinator for the Pellet Fuels Institute in Arlington, a trade association promoting energy independence through renewable biomass fuel.

Companies building in the area are:

* Wood Fuel Developers in Chester. In January 2010, the company announced plans to build an $18.7 million pellet plant in Greensville County that was expected to create 39 jobs.

One year later, Wood Fuel Developers announced intentions to replace a closed particleboard plant in Waverly with its new manufacturing center for wood pellets. The $8.6 million project is expected to bring 28 jobs to Sussex County.

* Enviva, a Richmond-based energy company. In December, Enviva announced it was building a wood-pellet factory in Ahoskie, N.C. The company plans to employ 60 at the plant, which is being built at the former Georgia Pacific lumber facility.

The plant will have the capacity to generate 350,000 tons of wood pellets a year and is scheduled to open later this year.

Enviva in February purchased the Giant Cement Co. port terminal on the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake for $11.7 million to export its wood biomass products, including those made in Ahoskie.

* Franklin Pellets, a newly formed partnership between Multifuels and CMI. Franklin Pellets in April announced it was eyeing the possibility of opening a wood pellet shop at International Paper in Franklin. The mill is expected to begin manufacturing in 18 to 24 months, but company officials did not say how many jobs it would create.

Peter O'Keefe, a partner with Franklin Pellets along with former Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, said an exploding market in Europe is one reason for opening the wood pellet plant.

"The market has gone from 11 million tons burned last year, upwards by 100 million by 2020," O'Keefe said. "They are looking at the United States."

He also noted that the Southeast is a very attractive for its wood supply and workforce.

"We as investors, whenever we see a market like this, you look at human capital that exists," O'Keefe said. "People (live in your area) who understand the wood industry and have been involved with the industry for 100 years. You have deep experience."

He noted too that the area has exceptional road systems to Virginia's ports.

"You have one of the most efficient ports in the world," O'Keefe said.

Berthiaume said over the past five to six years, his association has seen an increase in wood-pellet plant construction. Fuel prices tend to drive the market, since the capsule-size pellets of wood waste are used to heat homes and for commercial boilers as a less expensive, cleaner choice to fossil fuels.

"The primary use in the domestic market is pellet stoves and fireplace inserts," he said.

Berthiaume agrees the availability of yellow pine and the proximity of ocean ports is driving the industry.

"I've seen a couple of plants go up in Georgia," he said. "In the past few months, (they've gone up) near the ports of Savannah and Jacksonville."

As for the industry's future, Berthiaume believes fuel prices will dictate its growth.

"When fuel oil prices are high, the pellet industry does well," Berthiaume said.


Rachel Smolker
Biofuelwatch/Energy Justice Network
802.482.2848 (o)
802.735 7794 (m)
skype: Rachel Smolker

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Monday, June 27, 2011

FAO's new Brazilian chief defends biofuels

José Graziano da Silva used his first press conference after his election as the new director-general of the FAO to defend his home country Brazil's biofuel Industry, which transforms sugar cane into fuel.

Date: Jun 28, 2011 4:34 AM
Subject: FAO's new chief defends biofuels

Financial Times

News Alert

28 June 2011

Keyword(s): biofuel
Frequency: Immediately

June 28, 3:24am

FAO's new chief defends biofuels

The new head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned against "demonising" biofuels, in a reversal of the traditional position of the organisation that has in the past blamed them for contributing to high food prices.



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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Indonesian sugar producers seek 500,000 ha of land exempted from moratorium

Indonesian sugar producers seek 500,000 ha of land exempted from moratorium

June 23, 2011

Indonesia's sugar association is seeking 500,000 hectares of land for new sugar cane plantations in a bid to make the country self-sufficient in sugar production, reports Tempo Interactive.

Suryo Alam, the Indonesian Refined Sugar Association (AGRI), said the land would be part of the 900,000 hectares the Ministry of Forestry recently set aside for conversion. The recently passed moratorium on new licenses for converting primary forests and peatlands includes an exemption for sugar cane.

AGRI is seeking land in Merauke is a regency in Papua Province in Indonesian New Guinea, Southeast Sulawesi and Sumbawa, part of the Lesser Sunda Islands.


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Rainforest tribe forcibly removed from dam area to palm oil plantation

Rainforest tribe forcibly removed from dam area to palm oil plantation
Jeremy Hance

June 23, 2011

A thousand Penan indigenous people have been forcibly moved from their rainforest home to monoculture plantations, reports Survival International. To make way for the Murum dam, the Malaysian state government of Sarawak is moving a thousand Penan from their traditional homes, but as apart of the deal the government promised to move the Penan to another part of their ancestral land. The government has since sold that land to a palm oil company, which is currently clearcutting the forests for plantations.

"Even by the appalling standards of the Sarawak government, which has treated the Penan with contempt for decades, this is breathtakingly cynical. Not only is it forcing more than 1,000 people from the forests they have lived in for generations, it has sold off the area it promised them as a new home, and is allowing it to be cleared for plantations. It looks like the government won't be satisfied until the Penan are reduced to utter poverty and destitution," Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, said in a press release.

The Penan say that the palm oil company, Shin Yang, is illegally clearcutting the forests without its permission.

"If it is allowed to extensively clear and fell the forest, there will be no more forest left for our community to sustain our livelihood," the Penan say, as reported by Survival International.

The Penan people, who are traditionally nomadic hunter-and-gatherers, have faced decades of hardship. They have fiercely resisted loggers and plantation developers on their lands. In recent years their strategy has mostly transitioned from armed standoffs to taking legal action. But neither has been effective in protecting their forest homeland and the government has set an official policy of forcing the Penan to leave the forest and settle permanently.

The Murum dam is apart of Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) initiative, which will turn the state's rivers into dammed reservoirs, and its forests into open pit mines, wood-pulp plantations, and oil palm estates, while, according to critics, providing plenty of opportunities for corruption.

Chief Minister of Sarawak, Adbul Taib Mahmud, who is currently under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for alleged timber corruption, has been accused of hiding away hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in corrupt money during his 30 years of power. His family controls properties worth hundreds-of-millions of dollars throughout the world despite the fact that his annual salary is around $200,000.


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Thursday, June 23, 2011

G20 attacked on food crisis plan

Financial Times News Alert 23 June 2011 Keyword(s): biofuel
Frequency: Immediately
June 23, 10:13pm G20 attacked on food crisis plan The US, Brazil and China have joined forces to water down the G20's first-ever communiqué on agriculture, defeating proposals to reduce the use of biofuels and export bans, which have contributed to close to record food commodities prices. Advertisement © THE FINANCIAL TIMES LTD 2011 ABOUT THIS EMAIL You have received this email because you have signed up for this keyword/company alert on Change Alerts Unsubscribe Change Email Address Privacy Policy About Us Help The Financial Times Limited, registered in England and Wales number 227590. Registered office: Number One Southwark Bridge, London SE1 9HL. VAT number GB 278 5371 21. Please do not reply to this email as the address is not monitored. If you are experiencing difficulties with FT Alerts, please contact customer service:

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EC study doubts biofuels climate benefit

Commission study questions CO2 benefits from EU biofuel

By Toby Vogel
23.06.2011 / 05:19 CET

Side-effects of production eliminate emissions savings; palm oil and rapeseed score poorly.

Biofuel from palm oil, soybean and rapeseed produces more greenhouse-gas emissions than fossil fuel, once the environmental side-effects of its production are taken into account, an impact assessment prepared by the European Commission has found.

The assessment found that biofuel from oilseeds – the source of 80% of current biofuel consumption in the EU – will fail to meet existing EU requirements for greenhouse-gas savings in 2020 regardless of the methodology used to calculate the side-effects, known as indirect land-use change. Ethanol, produced from crops such as sugar cane and wheat, generates far higher greenhouse-gas savings.

The as-yet-unpublished impact assessment, prepared by officials from the departments for energy and for climate action and seen by European Voice, is supposed to guide the European Commission in deciding whether to seek changes to existing EU legislation. It has been the subject of unremitting negotiation between the two departments, with the energy department seeking to defend the merits of biofuel use. The assessment was considered by an inter-departmental panel in May but rejected on what are understood to be minor grounds.

There is now a renewed stand-off between the two departments. However, unless there is an extensive rewrite, the Commission will find it difficult to ignore the implications of an assessment that existing legislation on biofuel permits the use of fuel that is more damaging to the environment than fossil fuel.

The Commission's declared intention was to present its impact assessment "no later than July 2011". A spokesman for Connie Hedegaard, the European commissioner for climate action, was sticking to this line. He said: "This will, if appropriate, be accompanied by a legislative proposal for amending the renewable energy and fuel quality directives."

Amendments to directives

But the energy department is looking to change the parameters and assumptions of the impact assessment to blunt its possible impact on Europe's biofuel producers, making it highly unlikely that the Commission will be able to propose changes to legislation before the summer.

Under targets currently set out in the two directives, biofuel is required to meet a 35% threshold of greenhouse-gas savings over fossil fuel, rising to 50% from 2017. But the current rules do not take into account the impact of indirect land-use change, when the cultivation of biofuel crops on existing agricultural land leads to the use of additional land for production of other agricultural commodities. This displacement of agricultural activity, for instance into what might currently be woodland, has considerable implications for carbon emissions..

Conflict with trade rules

If the existing two directives are not changed, the study predicts that, taking into account the indirect land-use change, the biofuel used in 2020 would on average save only 15% in greenhouse-gas emissions compared to fossil fuel – far short of the existing 35% threshold. The study posits an alternative scenario in which emissions from the estimated indirect land-use change are taken into account and the use of certain types of biofuel – above all, oilseeds – is prohibited. That, it is estimated, could produce savings of 70%. This would require a change to the EU laws and would involve a significant industrial adjustment in the Union. Excluding oilseeds as a source of biofuel based on this model would, moreover, invite a legal challenge of the model's compatibility with existing world trade rules.

Mixed approach

The impact assessment in its draft form suggests that a mixture of approaches is most likely to produce the desired effects. This would include raising the thresholds of greenhouse-gas savings from biofuel, in effect excluding certain biofuel sources such as palm oil and soybean; additional sustainability requirements for some types of biofuel; and the factoring-in of emissions from indirect land-use change in the total emissions associated with other types of biofuel.


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Why Agriculture¡¯s Impending ¡®Storm¡¯ Will Send Corn Prices Soaring

QUOTE: "This is the first year more corn will be used for ethanol than livestock feed."¡¯s-impending-¡®storm¡¯-will-send-corn-prices-soaring-corn-dba-moo-pot-mon-de-tsn/

Why Agriculture¡¯s Impending ¡®Storm¡¯ Will Send Corn Prices Soaring

21st June 2011

Kerri Shannon: Don¡¯t let the recent slip fool you: Corn prices are ready to soar. Worldwide demand for corn has surged, and shrinking stockpiles are unlikely to be replaced due to extreme weather conditions that have destroyed millions of acres of farmland.

Even as corn production rises to record levels this year, it won¡¯t be enough to keep up with demand, and prices will climb.

¡°There is a storm developing in agriculture,¡± Jean Bourlot, global head of commodities at UBS AG (NYSE:UBS), told Bloomberg News. ¡°If we have the slightest disruption in any part of the world, the effect on the price will be considerable.¡±

Corn prices are up 4.9% this year ¨C currently hovering around $6.60 a bushel ¨C and have averaged $7.0225 since December. They could climb 36% this year to a record $9 a bushel, as demand is up 66%.

Global corn production will rise 5.6% this year, but still fall short of demand, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

In a report on global supply and demand estimates released June 9, the USDA reduced planted corn acres by 1.5 million acres from its March planting intentions survey. The USDA projects U.S. corn production to be 13.2 billion bushels this year ¨C still a record ¨C but down 305 million bushels from the May estimate, creating a bigger gap between supply and demand.

The USDA also reduced its estimate of corn stocks by the end of the 2011/2012 marketing year to 695 million bushels ¨C a 23% drop from its May estimate of 900 million bushels. U.S. stockpiles are down to 47 days of use ¨C the lowest since 1974.

¡°This is a very, very tight stocks situation,¡± said Todd Davis, crops economist with the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF). ¡°We clearly need a big crop this year to build our supply reservoir. Farmers can still make up for planting delays brought on by flooding, but they clearly need cooperative weather in July and August to make a good corn crop.¡±

¡°Food Fight¡± Pushes Corn Prices

China, the second-biggest corn consumer after the United States, will use 47 times more corn than it did 10 years ago. That¡¯s an increase exceeding the entire corn crop of Brazil, the world¡¯s third-largest producer.

Rising meat and poultry prices also have kicked up demand for corn as animal feed. China¡¯s pork consumption has doubled and chicken demand quadrupled over the past 20 years, according to the USDA.

Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE:TSN), the biggest U.S. meat processor, will spend $500 million more this fiscal year on feed costs. Corn and soybean meal account for about 42% of the company¡¯s spending. Tyson, like many farmers, has started using more wheat for poultry feed.

Finally, rising energy prices and the push for less reliance on oil has increased ethanol production. The U.S. ethanol industry now uses seven times as much corn for ethanol than it did 10 years ago.

This is the first year more corn will be used for ethanol than livestock feed, and next year the United States plans to convert more than 5 billion bushels of corn into ethanol.

The U.S. Senate last week voted to eliminate $6 billion in federal subsidies that support ethanol production, but that isn¡¯t expected to hurt the industry. The Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires fuel companies to blend at least 12.6 billion gallons of ethanol with gasoline each year, will keep ethanol production popular. The mandate will increase to 36 billion gallons annually by 2022.

Some analysts say that corn will remain an affordable oil alternative at any price below $9 a bushel.

¡°For the livestock industry, the ethanol industry, and the food industry, it¡¯s going to be a food fight,¡± John Cory, chief executive officer of grain processing company Prairie Mills, told Bloomberg. ¡°Any kind of weather problems are really going to be a significant problem.¡±

Wild Weather Slams Farmers

If 2011¡äs second half sees weather conditions anything like the first, crop yields could slip even more.

Flooding along the Mississippi River has hurt around 3.6 million acres of U.S. cropland, according to the AFBF. Arkansas has lost about one million acres, with Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee also affected.

In Texas and North Carolina, hot, dry weather threatens corn crops. Inclement weather has delayed plantings in many states, putting crops in danger of September frost.

¡°There is no doubt that the wild weather year we¡¯re seeing is impacting all the crops farmers produce,¡± said the AFBF¡¯s Davis. ¡°Drought and floods are taking their toll on cotton, corn, wheat and other crops, and USDA¡¯s newest numbers demonstrate just that.¡±

With weather problems likely, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) analysts said last week that forecasts for corn prices could be too low because the USDA isn¡¯t pessimistic enough in its estimates for U.S. corn, wheat, and soybean harvests.

Inclement weather is not just hitting U.S. agriculture. China is set to see harsher droughts after experiencing some of the lowest rainfalls in 50 years this season. China¡¯s drought has affected 6.5 million hectares (16.1 million acres) of farmland, according to the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

¡°Extreme events will become more intense in the future, especially the heat waves and extreme precipitations,¡± Omar Baddour, a division chief at the United Nations¡¯ World Meteorological Organization, told Bloomberg. ¡°That, combined with less rainfall in some regions like the Mediterranean region and China, will affect crop production and agriculture.¡±


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