The European Commission, the European Union’s regulatory body in Brussels, proposed this week that first-generation biofuels made from crops such as sugar, starch, or vegetable oils provide no more than 5 percent of the EU target for transport fuel, according to a Business News report.

The current EU requirement that at least 10 percent of energy for road and rail transport in 2020 come from renewable sources in all member nations risks causing side-effects that undermine the battle against global warming, environmental groups have said. “We must invest in biofuels that achieve real emission cuts and do not compete with food,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement. “We are, of course, not closing down first-generation biofuels, but we are sending a clear signal that future increases in biofuels must come from advanced biofuels. Everything else will be unsustainable.”

The draft legislation needs approval by EU national governments and the European Parliament to enter into force. Biofuels including ethanol and biodiesel are the main renewable energy for transport and offer the prospect of reducing the use of fossil fuels blamed for climate change, the Business Week report said.

Biofuels, mainly first-generation, accounted for about 4.7 percent of EU transport fuel consumption in 2010, according to the commission. The commission’s proposal would also require reporting of estimated emissions linked to indirect land-use change. Greater use of crops for biofuels would displace food production and that would threaten to spur the conversion of forest and peatland, which store carbon dioxide, into land for food crops.

This week’s proposal does not affect the ability of the European Union’s 27 member states to provide financial incentives for biofuels. After 2020, biofuels should only qualify for aid if they lead to “substantial” savings of greenhouse gases that scientists blame for global warming and are not produced from crops used for food and feed, according to the European Union.