New laws that came into effect in the UK this week mandating all fuels for cars and trucks must have some biofuel content has been found to do more harm to the environment than good. A number of charities including Oxfam and Greenpeace as well as science groups claim the production of biofuel will add more carbon-dioxide to the air than would be reduced by the amount adsorbed by the crops used to make the fuel.

Under the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, fuel companies must ensure 2.5% of fuel sold at UK pumps consists of biofuels and 5% by 2010. According to the Department for Transport the plan will cut CO2 levels by 2.5 million metric tons a year. Their reasoning is that replanted crops for biofuel production takes the same amount of CO2 out of the atmosphere as burning them puts in, reports Bloomberg.

Increased production of biofuel crops also has the adverse effect of pushing up food prices as land available for food crops is reduced. As UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown pointed out last week, the government itself is concerned biofuels are pushing up food costs yet the law still passed.

According to Oxfam, the new law will cost taxpayers $1 billion a year and could force up to 60 million people from their land in third world countries to make room for biofuel production. Both Oxfam and Greenpeace say the policy is “reckless,” because fuel providers are not yet obliged to source biofuels from sustainable plantations.