Jesuit Entity in Africa Urges States to “halt use of crop-based feedstocks in biofuels”

Credit: JENA Africa

Officials of the Jesuit Justice and Ecology Network – Africa (JENA), a department of the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar (JCAM), are calling on governments across the world to stop using crop-based feedstocks in biofuels as millions face starvation globally amid increased food prices.

In an article published Thursday, May 26, JENA officials regret the fact that world leaders and governments are not acting with “speed and seriousness” yet the food crisis is demanding. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said global food prices have reached record highs in a decade and poorer countries will be hit harder by the crisis.

“In the face of the current crisis, with millions of people facing starvation, we call on governments to immediately halt the use of food and feed crop-based feedstocks in biofuels and stop pushing for opening up biodiversity set aside areas for food production,” JENA officials say.

They reiterate Pope Francis’ calls to build economies that give life instead of killing it. 


“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not kill’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality,” they say referencing the Pope’s call in his 24 November 2013 Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.

JENA officials add that countries that are choosing to feed vehicles with biofuels instead of giving food to human beings are breaking the commandment of “Thou shalt not kill”.

In the May 26 report, JENA officials say, “Europe is still changing 10,000 tonnes of wheat – the equivalent of 15 million loaves of bread (750gr) – into ethanol for use in cars every day.”

On its part, the “United States Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) program set new targets for biofuel production amidst food price hikes. The Environmental Protection Agency  (EPA) through the RFS proposes that oil refiners blend billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s fuel mix.”

JENA officials further say that the world’s producers of biofuel, the U.S., India, China, India, Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, and the EU project a 43% increase in their consumption of first-generation biofuel. 

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Making reference to a 2020 study in Ghana, JENA officials say biofuels lead to increase in food prices and import dependency. 

They add that increasing demand for corn to which is used in producing biofuel has “resulted in the reduction of other feed crops, or on the worse, wetlands and other lands lying fallow may be converted into arable farmlands.”

Officials of the Jesuit entity say the diversion of food resources to the fuel market means that resources such as water, land, and labor will be “poured into cars.”

While the diversion has an opportunity in the use of land, JENA officials say it will impact negatively on the livelihoods of poor farmers and local communities. 

For instance, they say, “The pastoralist communities may have their native grazing lands converted into bioenergy crop plants.”


“Without sufficient locally-produced food, the poor are disadvantaged by their inability to access food, education, and health care,” officials of the entity of Jesuits in Africa say in their May 26 report.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.