The heads of Oxfam, ActionAid, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have written to UK MEPs and ministers urging them to support a cap on biofuels produced from crops such as sugar cane or palm oil.
They warn that European backing for biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels for transport is pushing up food prices and driving hunger because land is being used to grow fuel instead of food.
Smallholder farmers in poor countries are losing land and livelihoods as biofuel producers purchase areas to grow fuel crops for wealthy countries. Biofuels burned in European tanks may produce similar or even greater greenhouse gas emissions than fossil fuels, the groups argue.
The European Union aims to source 10% of transport fuel from biofuels by 2020 but proposed rules would limit food-based biofuels to 5%.