A Cautionary Approach to Biofuel Production:The Dilemma of Food Security and Energy Demands Presentation by Nadia B. Ahmad Technology and Sustainable Development March 6, 2012
What are biofuels?• Any fuel that is derived from biomass—that is, plant material or animal waste.• Since such feedstock material can be replenished readily, biofuel is considered to be a source of renewable energy, unlike fossil fuels.
The US committed$510 million overthe next 3 years toadvancing biofuelsinto a more usableform available foruse by commercialand military aircraft,bringing private andpublic investment tojust over $1 billion.
Agricultural Demands• The effects of growing biofuel demand are interwoven with tightening grain markets, which reflect demographic shifts and improved diets.• In developing countries, as populations grow and incomes rise, diet preferences are shifting from staple crops to higher-value products like meat and dairy.• As a result, the demand for grain- and protein-based animal feed is soaring and competing with food needs.• These changes have led to increasing pressures on global agricultural markets and higher food costs.
Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities• Since the early 1990s, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has used the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) to examine the effects of water availability and climate change on the global food supply, demand, trade, prices, and food security.• IMPACT is a key component in IFPRI’s scenario analysis of biofuels but will also be coupled with other global and country- level market and land-use models to evaluate important economy wide and environmental linkages.• Several models have been used together with IMPACT in developing and analyzing projections, and land-use models are being developed to examine the trade-offs between agricultural and nonagricultural land-use activities.
Global Per Capita Cereal and Energy Consumption Versus Per Capita Income (2003-2004) (Source: World Bank)Per capita energyconsumption inkilograms of oilequivalent.Per capital cerealconsumption inkilograms. Per Capital Income (US dollars)
Impact on Food Prices• The potential for farmers’ wages to increase in developing countries is real, but the possibility also exists that food prices will increase and create even more hardships on poor consumers.• “In both current and longer term projections, we see there is going to be an upward expansion in food prices,” says Marc Rosegrant, division director at the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Conclusions• The scale of the biomass, algae and seaweed resources are significant in terms of current global energy consumption.• Fuller exploitation of these resources has major implications for energy, climate and food security.• It will also have significant impacts on the global bio-physical cycles e.g. water, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium; and also on social factors.• Some positive outcomes can occur by default i.e. without substantive policy intervention e.g. energy security, others will require enhanced policies and regulation.• Lignocellulosic biofuel technologies will enable more of the biomass resource to be accessed; many benefits but also a number of threats.
Sources1. “Biofuel,” Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/967492/biofuel.2. “Fuel to Replace Gasoline and Diesel,” Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, October 17, 2005, http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/2005/fcvt_fotw394.html.3. “Biofuels and food security: Balancing needs for food, feed, and fuel,” International Policy and Food Research Institute, http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/bioenergybro.pdf.4. International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT), International Food Policy Research Institute, http://www.ifpri.org/publication/international-model-policy-analysis-agricultural- commodities-and-trade-impact-0.5. Rosamond L. Naylor, “The Ripple Effect: Biofuels, Food Security, and the Environment,” Environment, Vol. 49 no. 9, page(s) 30-43, November 2007, http://iis- db.stanford.edu/pubs/22064/Naylor_et_al_Env.pdf.6. Katie Howell, “Is Algae the Fuel of the Future?” Scientific American, April 28, 2009, http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=algae-biofuel-of-future.
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