Biofuels and Food Security

This report published by the High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) presents a science-based comparative literature analysis taking into consideration the work produced by the FAO and Global Bioenergy Partnership (GBEP) of the positive and negative effects of biofuels on food security.

#5 | Committee on World Food Security, HLPE | July 2013

The point of departure of this report is taken from the now commonly accepted understanding of the multiple dimensions of food security – access, availability, use and stability – that are influenced by prices, the availability of the means to produce food, and the extent to which food can be adequately appropriated, particularly relevant here being access to energy and to clean water. Food security depends finally on the degree to which these factors are guaranteed and predictable. Each chapter addresses one or more of these dimensions.

Chapter 1 analyses biofuel policies in developed and developing countries showing that energy security, alternative agricultural outlets or climate change considerations have been dominant in the three leading producer countries/regions. Chapter 2 focuses on the different types of feedstocks and industrial biofuel processes, drawing out their different implications for questions of food security. Chapter 3 deals, particularly, with the effects of biofuels on food price levels and volatility, central to the access and stability dimensions of food security. Chapter 4 considers the impact of biofuels on land use for food. It also discusses how biofuel investments are influencing access to and rights over land. Chapter 5 discusses the positive and negative socio-economic impacts of biofuel investments, particularly on income and employment in developing countries. Particular attention is given to gender and biofuels, given the centrality of women in agricultural and household activities.

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