French President Calls for Non-Food Agriculture for Bio-based Fuels and Chemicals, Pilots on Second-Generation Biofuels
In a speech to an agricultural conference in France last week, French President Jacques Chirac asserted the important role of non-food agriculture for France and Europe, and called for the immediate launching of two pilot projects to develop second-generation biofuels.
Second-generation biofuels include cellulosic ethanol and biomass-to-liquids (BTL) Fischer-Tropsch synthetics. “It [second-generation biofuel technology] is technically very promising. And it will make it possible to use French [agricultural] production fully,” said Chirac.
Crops should be used to produce vegetable-based fuels and chemicals, said Chirac, noting that he has set a targeted biofuel component in French fuels of 10% by 2010. Chirac also said that the European Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) needs to reflect the production of energy and chemical crops, but also rejected any overhaul of the CAP before 2013.
France will carry this ambition, this vision of the agriculture of tomorrow, into the heart of the European structure. Europe does not have the right to take the wrong way. Europe must advance with two priorities: high technology and agriculture.
The new common agricultural policy must maintain community preference and the government aid for the social and environmental aspects of the agriculture, which cannot be solely remunerated by prices. But above all, the CAP will have to be extended to the new dimension of non-food uses of agricultural products by clearly providing privilege to European products.
Plantings of some crops for first-generation biofuels are already increasing in France. A report from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) in March 2006 projected that following a record crop in 2005 of 4.5 million MT from 1.2 million ha, French rapeseed production will this year again be very high in response to increased biodiesel demands.