First-generation biofuels have a somewhat paradoxical status. On the one hand, they have become key ingredients in the EU’s ‘Green Deal’ priorities. On the other hand, they have fuelled all kinds of environmental, social and political disruptions, and unleashed massive transformations – particularly in the Global South – because of rising international demand. Our report explores a sugar cane plantation from northern Peru that was supported through Belgian and Dutch investments and is feeding the EU bioethanol market since 2018. It shows how EU policies are fueling land and water grabbing, air pollution, climate change vulnerabilities, food insecurity and social unrest in the Chira Valley.