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To support an agricultural model that leaves millions hungry and millions more sick

 

Photo credit: Food Tank

Increasing production of biofuels is not the answer to reducing emissions.
Fabio Erdos, ActionAid

Poor Farmers Mustn’t Be the Losers in the Fight Against Climate Change

Now that countries around the world have agreed on a global deal to tackle climate change, attention has shifted to how we’re going to do it. If we’re to meet the ambitious targets in the Paris climate agreement, we need to reduce our emissions and do it fast. Bioenergy and carbon capture storage – a plan to take carbon dioxide and trap it under the ground rather than releasing it into the atmosphere – have become a controversial part of the discussions on how we do this.

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the amount of biofuels to be used in the United States in 2016 and there has been much discussion on Capitol Hill of the Renewable Fuel Standard (the U.S. biofuel mandate) and its benefits in the fight against climate change. As the food versus fuel debate continues, a new study was published arguing that biofuels are actually good for food security. However, the study is seriously flawed. Not only are the authors unable to make their case that biofuels support food security, but they also fail to discredit the evidence that biofuels contribute to hunger globally. By underestimating the competition for land and ignoring the impact that such large land deals are having on local farmers around the world, the authors fail to take into account important evidence which shows that U.S. biofuels policies are increasing hunger around the world.

Where we can agree is on the importance of investing in agriculture. But the authors overlook the importance of how the investment is made and who it benefits. They argue that demand for biofuels will result in increased investment in agriculture because of higher and more stable commodity prices, which will increase food security in the long run. But private sector investment driven by high commodity prices will not be focused on food security for local communities. Instead, it will focus on increasing production, likely by using expensive machinery, or only focus on a handful of bioenergy feedstocks. This will only continue to support an agricultural model that leaves millions hungry and millions more sick from consuming too much of the wrong food.

A false solution to our energy needs

Read the full article: Food Tank

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.