6492 Food vs. Fuel

Friday, February 17, 2012: 1:30 PM
Room 118 (VCC West Building)
Frank Rosillo-Calle , Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Concerns over  population growth, demand for improved living standards, malnutrition, and misconceptions about  land use for biofuel production, together with moral/ethical issues, continue to cause concern that unbalanced  promotion of bioenergy (primarily biofuels), could have serious economic, social, political, and environmental consequences if the right policies are not put in place.

It has widely been assumed that increased biomass energy production can only be achieved to the detriment of food security, particularly for the world’s poor. However, closer scrutiny suggests that modern bioenergy in the form of liquid fuel, electricity or heat, can be developed in ways that enhance and ate synergistic with food security (Lynd and Woods, 2011).

It is becoming increasingly apparent to the more enlightened that producing bioenergy and particularly biofuels while ignoring food security is untenable, and a combination of increased food and bioenergy production is essential to further mankind’s development aspirations. Modernization, diversification, and rejuvenation of agriculture go hand-in-hand with a modern industrial bioenergy/biofuel sector.

The potential impact of bioenergy on food insecurity and its frequent companions- poverty, and underdeveloped rural areas - depends critically on the crop(s) grown, the land used, the technology employed, and how the bioenergy supply chain is integrated into agricultural, social and economic systems.  Configurations that integrate the production of food, animal feed and bioenergy (biodiesel, ethanol, heat and power) are needed.

This presentation aims to deliver a critical assessment of complementarities that could arise from a substantial increase in the production of biofuels on food security. It will show that a significant amount of bioenergy can be produced without affecting food production.

Chum, H.,(2011) (eds.) IPCC Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation. Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, Cambridge University Press

Lynd, L.R., and Woods, J. Perspective: A new hope for Africa. Nature 474, S20–S21 (23 June 2011).

 Murphy R, Woods J, Black M, McManus M, (2011) Global developments in the competition for land from biofuels, Food Policy 36, S52–S61

 Rosillo-Calle and Johnson F (2010), Eds. Food vs. Fuel- An informed Introduction to Biofuels, Zed Books, London