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HLPE consultation on the V0 draft of the Report: Biofuels and Food Security

In October 2011 the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) recommended a “review of biofuels policies – where applicable and if necessary – according to balanced science-based assessments of the opportunities and challenges that they may represent for food security so that biofuels can be produced where it is socially, economically and environmentally feasible to do so”. In line with this, the CFS requested the HLPE to “conduct 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”.

The Final findings are to be presented to the CFS Plenary Session in October 2013.

The High Level Panel of Experts for Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE) now seeks input on the following V0 draft of its report to address this mandate. The current V0 draft has been elaborated by the Project Team, under guidance and oversight of the Steering Committee, based also on the feedback received through the scoping e-consultation.

The present e-consultation will be used by the HLPE Project Team to further elaborate the report, which will then be submitted to external expert review, before finalization by the Project Team under Steering Committee guidance and oversight.

The current draft is work-in-progress towards a comprehensive yet accessible and succinct presentation, highlighting priority topics and areas that are useful for action to the diverse range of stakeholders, which form the CFS.

To be useful in the next steps of the report write-up, the HLPE seeks feedback and input according to the following lines:

1.    Is the V0´s appreciation of the current policy conjuncture adequate, particularly its interpretation of the changing significance of mandates and targets?

2.    Does the V0´s interpretation of land constraints regarding “available” lands  – from an integrated food security and carbon emissions perspective – take into account all the relevant scientific evidence and arguments?

3.    The V0 provides a detailed and comprehensive discussion of the central role of biofuels for high and volatile food prices. Are there further discussions that need to be taken into account?

4.    The V0 endorses initiatives which give priority to broad bioenergy strategies for local use in energy poor regions of the world where the potential social gains are large from even small quantities of energy and the impact on land use competition small. Which are the most far-reaching examples of such policies or experiences in practice?
The V0 draft report presents a series of policy proposals, which are understood to follow on from the analysis developed in the different chapters. These proposals are still very preliminary and general in character. Do these proposals adequately reflect the analyses developed in the V0 draft? 

The Report ambitions to pay particular attention to the changed conjuncture with regard to mandates/targets and subsidies and to the need to define policies to control the development of biofuels markets. Contributions on this theme would be particularly welcomed.

The HLPE welcomes contributions and evidence to sharpen policy proposals, including international ones, in the area of implementing and ensuring effectively responsible land investments.

The HLPE is concerned above all to develop policy proposals, which can be used as practical guides for policy formulation, and welcomes contributions, which identify policies, and initiatives, which can flesh out the general orientations, presented in the policy proposals section.
We thank in advance all the contributors for being kind enough to spend time in reading and commenting on this early version of our report. Supplementary information, references and evidence-based examples would be very much welcomed in such a format that could be quickly managed by the team (for instance, if you suggest a reference, a book etc, please highlight a/the key point(s) in 5 to 10 lines).

Contributions are welcomed in English, French and Spanish. The V0 draft is available in English. We look forward to a rich and fruitful consultation.
The HLPE Project Team and Steering Committee

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John Wilkinson Team Leader HLPE Biofuels and Food Security Report,
FSN Forum

Dear Contributors to the Public e-Consultation,

On behalf of the HLPE Biofuels and Food Security Report Project Team I would like to thank all, both institutions and individuals, who have contributed to the consultation. The comments and considerations have amounted to some 250 pages of careful and critical analysis. In addition to the attentive reading of the document, comentators have supplied us with a wide range of references which will be invaluable in the further elaboration of the Report. We are particularly grateful for the detailed elaboration of the arguments put forward from many different perspectives.

As you all know, this was what we have called a Zero Version which was circulated intentionally by the HLPE at this early stage in the elaboration of the Report to allow for a full consideration of the corrections, suggestions and positions presented in the consultation. You can be assured that subsequent versions will take into careful consideration all the contributions we have received.

While the title of the Report is “Biofuels and Food Security” the central concern and terms of reference are the implications of Biofuels for Food Security and we do not intend therefore to provide an exhaustive account of the present and future of biofuels. We recognize on the other hand that all aspects of food security should be taken into account and this will be a central concern in our reworking of the text.

Once again our sincere thanks to all who have participated in the consultation

Best regards, 

John Wilkinson

Team Leader HLPE Biofuels and Food Security Report

Renewable Energy Association , United Kingdom
FSN Forum

The Renewable Energy Association (REA) is pleased to submit this response to the HLPE consultation. The REA represents a wide variety of organisations, including generators, project developers, fuel and power suppliers, investors, equipment producers and service providers.  Members range in size from major multinationals to sole traders. There are over 950 corporate members of the REA, making it the largest renewable energy trade association in the UK.

Members’ views on this consultation have been gathered and included in our response.


The REA welcomes the opportunity to respond to the HLPE consultation on “Biofuels and Food Security. However, we are very concerned by the evidence presented in the report in relation to the original mandate given by the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

The report takes a single minded view of biofuels which employs a selective use of evidence to take a clear anti-biofuels position despite the mandate to “conduct 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.” Instead the authors have deviated from this mandate. In the report, the authors state that: “the central concern of this report is to analyse the implications for food security of global and national biofuels markets…through an evaluation both at the aggregate level of macro data and through field research carried out in different regions and localities.” The report reveals no attempt to present the positive effects of biofuels on food security, most notably the absence of a consideration of the co-products of bioethanol and some biodiesel production which contribute significantly to food security.

The  report  also  fails  to  achieve  the  professional  standard  expected  from  the mandate given. The report states: “following on these recommendations [from the FAO and GBEP] the present study is dedicated to a policy oriented literature review of the food security implications of biofuels.”  The authors have limited the review in such a way as to include only evidence which supports the anti-biofuels agenda and reads as an opinion piece, rather than a value-free expert opinion on the true impacts of biofuels on commodities and food prices.

The HLPE has failed to deliver a true expert analysis of biofuels and food security and needs  significant  revision  before  it  could  be  considered  as  such.  Key  areas  to address include:

1.  Failure to complete a science-based comparative literature analysis. The HLPE

does not provide the methodology used to perform the literature review and therefore cannot be considered as a proper literature review. Without a transparent methodology, HLPE has been able to omit much of the relevant evidence explaining the positive effects of biofuels.

2.  A biased agenda set out in the executive summary and introduction gives a pre- determined view that biofuels are exacerbating world hunger by driving up food prices. The paper is focussed almost entirely on risks and ignores the opportunities presented by biofuels (e.g. co-products).

3.  The  omission  of  a  consideration  of  the  whole  subject  of  waste  which  is fundamental to a consideration of food security.

4.  Insufficient attention has been given to the interplay of consequences for food security of increased investment in biofuels leading to productivity and land use changes, together with global dietary changes. FAO’s own statistics indicate that the greatest challenge derives from dietary changes and not biofuels.

5. Utilisation of vague statements and unsubstantiated claims alongside many reference  materials  which  are  either  missing  in  the  reference  list  or  not scientifically peer-reviewed material. There are far too many references throughout the report to “studies” which are never referenced. The paper is also littered with conjectural words such as “could”, “can, “might”, “probably” which we would not expect to see in a rigorous scientifically based literature review.

6.  The report’s use of incorrect data and the omission of key reports and data, such as research on biofuels co-products and their positive impact on food prices, as well as facts contained in the FAO’s own reports e.g. FAO Statistical Yearbook 2012.

7.  A  failure  to  properly  analyse  and  distinguish  between  modelling,  which  the authors correctly view as often inappropriate for policy development, and real world observation and understanding of the working of markets. For example, the basis of much of the argumentation in Chapter  3 rests on the assertion that ethanol producers would want to bid up the price of maize. This is completely illogical.

The rest of our response below goes into more detail within the body of the report. However, at this stage we must express our deep concern about the bias contained in the Executive Summary and the Policy Recommendations. The shortcomings of the report are of such a magnitude that the conclusions adduced in the Summary and Recommendations should be re-visited in the light of a properly balanced and full literature review as mandated. A Summary and Policy Recommendations should flow from the analysis and not the other way around. The authors appear to have produced a report to bolster some pre-conceived notions, which is not the purpose of the report.

The REA recognises and would associate itself with the extensive responses from others (e.g. ePURE, Ethanol Europe, the European Commission and others) which highlight many of the same issues we have found with this report.

Chapter 1: Biofuels policies

•              The  report  often  misinterprets  current  and  proposed  EU  legislation.  For example, Page 7 refers to the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and the Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) as having blending targets. In fact the RED has a renewable energy target which includes more than just biofuels and the FQD has a greenhouse gas saving target. Furthermore, Page 14 (and elsewhere) refers to the EU proposals of 17 October 2012 to amend the RED/FQD as final legislation when in fact they will be the subject of significant and prolonged negotiation between the 27 member states of the EU, and between the EU institutions. It cannot be taken as a given that the proposals will remain unchanged.

•              Page 7. The relevance of wood pellets is obscure.

•              Page 8. The Brazilian market has been driven by its statutory blending levels.

•              Page 13. What is the evidence for the statement “Biofuels in sub-Saharan Africa in the middle years of the last decade were largely dominated by responses to the biodiesel demand created by the EU mandate”?

•              Page 14. The statement “Biofuels policies in the North are now at a turning point which promises to put a ceiling on food-based biofuels at around their existing levels” is conjecture and therefore cannot be based on any literature review.

•              Page 14. The authors correctly identify a need for investment capital but appear to discount the contribution that investment in feedstocks for biofuels has made to increasing productivity and sustainability. The rules within the EU RED for example have had the effect of raising the sustainability bar across agriculture, as farmers do not distinguish between the various markets for their production.  The  emergence  of  a  biofuels  market  has  also  encouraged farmers to invest in better agricultural practices to improve yield – for example the yield of oilseed rape in the UK has increased by 25% in the last 10 years.

•              Section 1.6. The absence of a complete reference list makes it difficult to assess this section. There appears to be deliberate and misleading identity confusion between agriculture and biofuels production.

Chapter 2: Biofuels and the technology frontier

•              Page 16. It is unclear why the authors accept that biofuels produced from non-food biomass are less land intensive and have better sustainability and environmental credentials. If biofuels produce animal feed as co-products then there is a positive resource use benefit in making both renewable fuel and much-needed protein-rich feed from the same land.

•              Table 2 makes no attempt to describe the GHG saving of the biofuels that are actually used, and ignores the requirement for minimum thresholds in both US and EU legislation. (EU legislation requires a 60% GHG saving from 2018). Such savings and thresholds have to be met after accounting for any direct land use change effects.

•              Bio refineries already exist throughout Europe and the US producing both fuel and feed.

Chapter 3: Food prices, hunger and poverty

•              Although the authors recognise the distinction between commodity prices and food prices, this section persistently interchanges the two, leaving a muddled and confusing analysis.

•              This section also elaborates a very confusing debate about modelling which it would  be  impossible  to  clarify/understand  without  going  back  to  all  the source material. There is also a confusing analysis about the difference between short-term and longer-term market responses, and the shortcomings of models in this regard. The result underplays actual supply responses which can be adduced from looking at what has happened in commodity markets, rather than what “inappropriate” models might predict will happen.

•              The only positive statement in regards to biofuels in the report is: “[Biofuels] can also be seen to have a positive effect on food security to the extent that they open up the possibility for new sources of income and employment, and provide alternative sources of energy for rural communities and for rural and urban food preparation.” This ignores several reports, including reports from the FAO, which acknowledge the benefits of biofuels.

•              There is no mention of co-products associated with biofuel production. Co- products are a key part of the overall analysis, because they can fundamentally change the apparent performance of biofuels. Co-products recover all the protein present in the feedstock, and can therefore displace other protein sources such as imported soy, with significant consequent environmental and economic benefit. This also results in reduced net land use, a credit component for ILUC effects, and benefits to the food sector.1

•              The  report claims biofuels  “played a  predominate role” in  the  food  price volatility since 2004, and specifically the food price spikes in 2008 and 2012. The report fails to give a quantitative assessment to support its claims. Furthermore, reports from both DEFRA and the World Bank have shown that biofuels had a limited effect on commodity prices. Analysis from the USA Renewable Fuels Association showed in 2012 that as the prices of maize increased significantly in response to drought, the production of bioethanol similarly decreased. Bioethanol production therefore would not have been competing with corn used for food production.

•              Section 3.2.1. ‘The simplest reason to believe that biofuels have driven large increases in grain prices is that it has made economic sense for biofuel producers  to  drive  up  grain  prices  dramatically’.  This  demonstrates  an Incorrect  understanding  of  the  economics  of  biofuel  production  and  the effect of high grain prices in the USA in 2012.

•              The relationship between oil and maize prices is not proven. Based on the use of the Babcok analysis on the impact of the US blenders’ tax credit on the maize price of nearly $100/t one would expect the maize price to have reduced by this amount since the blenders’ tax credit was removed in December 2011, and it clearly has not done so.

1 Please see these peer-reviewed reports: Biofuel Co-Products as Livestock Feed – Opportunities and Challenges; Chapter 2: An Outlook on EU biofuel production and its implications for the animal feed industry (FAO, 2012) and Impact of protein co-products on net land requirement for European biofuel production. Global Change Biology – Bioenergy (2009) 1(5): 346-359

•              Where  the  evidence  has  pointed  to  the  limited  effect  of  biofuel  on commodity prices. (e.g.  DEFRA report in 2010) the authors have ‘downplayed the role of biofuels in triggering price increases..’  because it does not fit their theory. They have also not quoted the World Bank report which reached similar conclusions.

Chapter 4: Biofuels and land

•              Once again this section is directed towards arguments against the use of biofuels  and  does  not  attempt  to  indicate  the  positive  contribution  that biofuels can make to, for example, investment in agriculture, improved productivity, and more sustainable production, all of which are absolute prerequisites  if  global  land  stocks  are  to  be  able  to  feed  the  predicted increase in global population.

•              The  REA  is  on  record  as  saying  that  land  grabbing  is  unacceptable,  for whatever end use. The data and analysis of the International Land Coalition which led to the conclusion that between one third and two thirds of land grabbing is related to biofuels, is not transparent. Without further transparency, there is very little evidence to support this conclusion.

•              This section strays into areas which are not the preserve of this report. For example, Page 40 devotes a full page to the carbon implications of indirect land use change. If this analysis is relevant to this report then there should be a full analysis of the carbon implications of the continuing and increased use globally of fossil fuels, to put this debate into a proper perspective.

Chapter 5: Social Implications of Biofuels

•              This section refers extensively to land rights in such a way as to infer that the infringement   of   land   rights   is   the   exclusive   preserve   of   biofuels.   The infringement of land rights can happen for a multitude of reasons and the issue is one of local governance and local law, not of biofuels.

•              In the same way, this section refers to gender issues as if the removal of biofuels globally would in some way improve the social position of women. The issue is far more complex than is treated here and the report reads more like a campaigning document than a serious review.

The REA has been pleased to offer these comments on  Version 0 and we look forward to seeing a more balanced revision in the coming months. It is essential that this report both fulfils its mandate and presents a balanced review. The final report should not be a campaigning document but a serious and scientifically based contribution  to  a  very  complex  series  of  problems  which  the  FAO  has  been attempting to manage.

Clare Wenner
Renewable Energy Association
Head of Renewable Transport clare@euro-pa.net

February 2013

Government of Argentina ,
FSN Forum

La Representación Permanente de la República Argentina ante la FAO tiene el agrado de remitir los comentarios de la Argentina sobre el Borrador Cero del Informe del HLPE sobre "Biocombustibles y Seguridad Alimentaria".

En primer lugar, la Argentina desea agradecer esta oportunidad de efectuar comentarios y observaciones en relación con el documento Borrador Cero del Informe del GANESAN sobre "Biocombustibles y Seguridad Alimentaria".

Al respecto, nuestro país realiza los siguientes comentarios con la finalidad de que sean tenidos en cuenta y debidamente incorporados en la próxima versión del mencionado Informe.

1. Comentarios sobre el enfoque del análisis contenido en el Borrador Cero

En términos generales, se debe señalar que al momento de analizar la relación entre biocombustibles y seguridad alimentaria es fundamental reconocer que no se pueden realizar generalizaciones.

Se debe tener en cuenta que la producción de determinados biocombustibles no implica necesariamente una reducción en la oferta de alimentos. Por lo tanto, el contenido general del documento, y en particular, las propuestas de políticas incluidas en el mismo, deberían tener en claro y debidamente considerada esta cuestión.

Por ello, parece acertado el ejercicio de abordar el caso de distintos países y distintas regiones, ya que debe quedar claro en el documento que no todos los países afectan de igual manera el equilibrio entre energía y alimentos.

La Argentina, por ejemplo, no puede ser incluida entre los países cuya producción o consumo de biocombustibles ponga en riesgo la seguridad alimentaria a nivel global.

Nuestro país no puede alterar el equilibrio entre alimentos y energía a nivel global, pues cuenta con excedentes de suelo, tal lo señalado por el Borrador Cero en relación con la región de América Latina: "Latin America as a whole as having abundant available land which could be incorporated into biofuels production without prejudice to food production." (punto 1.4.6. Biofuels in Latin America, párrafo 2 del documento Borrador Cero)

La Argentina produce en grandes cantidades tanto alimentos como biocombustibles, por lo que considera a la producción y exportación de éstos últimos un factor que agrega valor a su cadena productiva, generando empleo e innovación. La composición del grano de soja es de aceite (18%), proteína (78%) y otros (4%). Lo que se utiliza para la producción de biodiesel es solamente el 18% del grano y su producto principal, la harina proteica, es alimento animal para la producción de alimentación humana (carnes, etc). Esto refleja claramente que en caso argentino la producción de biodiesel es un subproducto de la producción de proteínas para la producción de alimentos, por lo que no amenaza a la seguridad alimentaria.

En relación con aquellos tipos de biocombustibles que no amenazan o que no compiten con la producción de alimentos, es importante tener en cuenta que las múltiples actividades agropecuarias, forestales y de sus industrias asociadas, generan una gran cantidad de subproductos

(residuos) que son una excelente biomasa para la producción de energía renovable. En este contexto, toma relevancia el establecimiento de biorefinerías para la producción integrada de alimentos, energía y químicos derivados de la biomasa, con el consiguiente desarrollo de los territorios específicos involucrados en cada caso.

El uso de residuos para generar energía es una opción sumamente relevante y debe ser tenida en cuenta y analizada de manera adecuada. En dicho análisis, debería tenerse en cuenta la escala a la cual se podría desarrollar y aplicar este tipo de energía, la logística asociada a su transporte y procesamiento, qué tipo de residuo se utiliza y qué tipo de biocombustible se desea generar con cada uno de los residuos de que se trate.

A modo de ejemplo, los residuos ganaderos, industriales o residuos sólidos urbanos son apropiados para generar biogás de distintas calidades, mientras que los residuos de cosecha o forestales pueden utilizarse para complementar otro tipo de residuo y generar biogás, quemarse como biocombustible sólido, o utilizarse como biomasa para generar, a partir de lignocelulosa, biocombustibles de segunda generación.

No obstante, se debe tomar en consideración que la energía a partir de lignocelulosa aún no se encontraría lo suficientemente desarrollada, y los costos para generar biocombustibles de segunda generación pueden ser elevados, tal como se encuentra mencionado en el documento.

  2. Relación entre biocombustibles y el precio de los alimentos, el hambre y la pobreza

En el documento se plantea que a mayor producción de biocombustibles, mayor es el incremento del precio de los alimentos y, a causa de ello, mayor el impacto en los índices de pobreza y hambre. Sin embargo, la relación entre estas tres variables (producción de biocombustibles, precio de los alimentos y pobreza/malnutrición) dista de presentarse en la realidad con la linealidad esbozada en el documento. En este sentido, se deberá revisar este enfoque lineal presentado en el Borrador Cero, teniendo debidamente en cuenta que:

i) El hambre en el mundo es consecuencia de la pobreza y la desigual distribución de la riqueza y de un sistema de comercio internacional de productos agrícolas fuertemente distorsionado por las prácticas proteccionistas, incluidas las subvenciones, de algunos países desarrollados que han generado y generan una importante transferencia de recursos desde países menos adelantados (PMA) y en desarrollo (PED) hacia países desarrollados, en tanto se ha desalentado la producción agrícola en los PMA y PED.

Por lo tanto, el eje central de los debates relacionados con la inseguridad alimentaria y el hambre debería estar puesto en remediar esta situación mediante:

- la producción de más alimentos para más personas, asegurando el acceso a los mismos por parte de las poblaciones más vulnerables;

- la conclusión de las negociaciones agrícolas de la Ronda de Doha de la Organización Mundial del Comercio, conforme a su mandato.

ii) En relación con la afirmación referida a "precios altos" de los alimentos, su veracidad dependerá del año que se tome como base para la comparación de los mismos. Según información del Banco Mundial - Indice de Precio de los Alimentos en términos constantes - , los niveles de precios de los alimentos, en términos reales, durante la década

2000-2009 resultaron ser un 34% inferior al promedio de la década del 60. Esto significa que el sector alimentario había quedado rezagado en términos de incrementos de precios en comparación al total de la economía y las modificaciones observadas durante los últimos años fueron simplemente una reversión de precios que durante muchas décadas se mantuvieron bajos. Por lo tanto, no es correcto hablar de "precios altos", sino de "recuperación" de los precios de los alimentos.

Esto quedó muy claro en las conclusiones de la 37° Conferencia de la FAO, la cual "señaló que los precios internacionales sumamente inestables de los productos alimenticios representaban una grave amenaza para la seguridad alimentaria y resaltaron la importancia de establecer redes de seguridad y programas sociales para proteger a las personas vulnerables y afectadas por la inseguridad alimentaria contra los efectos inmediatos de las crisis, así como de promover las inversiones y la innovación a fin de potenciar la capacidad productiva de la agricultura en los países en desarrollo.. (párrafo 35, documento C 2011/REP). Por lo tanto, queda claro que el problema es la excesiva volatilidad de los precios y no su nivel. La humanidad ha sufrido grandes hambrunas en períodos en los que los precios de los alimentos se han mantenido bajos.

iii) Respecto de la relación entre la producción de biocombustibles y el llamado aumento del precio de los alimentos, cabe señalar que se trata de un tema sumamente controvertido a nivel internacional y sobre el cual no se puede realizar generalizaciones, tal se manifestó en el punto 1, pues no es cierto que toda producción de biocombustibles afecta necesariamente la oferta de alimentos.

iv) Existen beneficios asociados a la producción de biocombustibles que deben ser tenidos en cuenta debidamente en el Informe sobre "Biocombustibles y Seguridad Alimentaria", de lo contrario su contenido sería incompleto y su abordaje sesgado.

Por ejemplo, se debería tener en cuenta los beneficios producidos por el agregado de valor sobre la producción primaria en origen y sus efectos sociales positivos en términos de empleo, generación de ingresos y, por ende, en la disminución de la pobreza y del hambre.

A modo de ejemplo, la puesta en marcha de una planta productora de biocombustibles amplía la cadena del producto primario, generando un aumento en la oferta de co-productos, siendo algunos de ellos importantes insumos para producciones pecuarias. Estos productos constituyen fuentes adicionales de ingresos, conllevan a la diversificación de las actividades productivas regionales, al agregado de valor a las producciones primarias y a una mayor inversión en obra pública (electricidad, agua, tratado de efluentes, transporte), lo cual resulta en una mayor calidad de vida para los residentes de la zona.

Por lo tanto, se considera que la producción de biocombustibles en determinados casos no sólo no afecta negativamente a la seguridad alimentaria sino que, por el contrario, tiene efectos muy positivos en tanto representa una oportunidad para la diversificación productiva, el fortalecimiento y diversificación de la matriz energética y el desarrollo rural con inclusión social.

3. Cambio indirecto en el uso de la tierra - (ILUC por sus siglas en


Se trata de un tema sumamente controvertido sobre el cual no existe hasta el momento evidencia científica sólida. En este sentido, cabe señalar que el uso de diferentes algoritmos y fórmulas econométricas que pronostican el efecto de los cambios en el uso de la tierra, sobre el nivel de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, tratan de modelizar dichos cambios a escala global, lo que resulta muy difícil de predecir.

Dichas metodologías carecen de base científica sólida y, más aún, las mismas no han sido debidamente contrastadas con la realidad del sector agropecuario, razón por la cual el concepto de ILUC se considera puramente teórico. En este sentido, no hay modelos únicos que sean válidos para ser utilizados y aplicados con resultados asimilables a distintas circunstancias. Las distintas características agroambientales y los diversos sistemas de producción existentes en cada país hacen que no se puedan estandarizar criterios que lleven a resultados representativos de cada una de dichas realidades.

En el caso de la Argentina, las favorables características agroambientales combinadas con la introducción de prácticas y tecnologías específicas, tal el caso de la siembra directa y la agricultura de precisión, permiten un incremento en la productividad agrícola al mismo tiempo que se minimizan los impactos negativos sobre el ambiente.

Por lo tanto, se debería ser muy cauteloso a la hora de abordar este tema y dejar en claro en el Informe lo expuesto precedentemente.

4. Normativas sobre Biocombustibles/Esquemas de Certificaciones:

i) Respecto a este tema, toda normativa relativa a biocombustibles y los requerimientos de certificación que puedan tener asociados dichas normativas deben ser compatibles con las reglas y mandatos de la Organización Mundial del Comercio (OMC).

En relación con ciertas exigencias impuestas por los países importadores, - tales como exigencias de sustentabilidad- , existe el riesgo de que las mismas pueden constituirse, en la práctica, en barreras no arancelarias al comercio internacional.

Por lo tanto, los países que impongan dichas exigencias deberán demostrar que este tipo de exigencias no resulta en una medida discriminatoria del comercio, que está sustentada en evidencia científica cierta, y que su implementación está consensuada con los principales proveedores.

En consecuencia, dados los peligros asociados a la posibilidad de que ciertas medidas/normativas o exigencias de certificación se constituyan en la práctica en barreras no arancelarias al comercio internacional de biocombustibles o en medidas discriminatorias de comercio, en el Informe se debería hacer referencia de manera contundente y explícita a la importancia fundamental de que toda medida y/o exigencia por parte de los países importadores de biocombustibles esté en concordancia con la normativa y mandatos de la OMC.

ii) Cabe destacar que la cuestión relativa a las certificaciones, a fin de que su tratamiento sea abarcativo, debe considerar todas las posibles ventajas y desventajas que la misma contempla. Al respecto, resulta fundamental destacar que en muchos casos los esquemas existentes utilizan un enfoque one size fits all que podría no ser apropiado en función de las distintas circunstancias. De este modo, la importancia de un enfoque adecuado radica en que, de no ser así, los esquemas de certificación pueden no contribuir al logro de los objetivos legítimos que buscarían alcanzar y, por lo tanto, convertirse en obstáculos injustificados para el comercio internacional.

Los sistemas de certificación se traducen en condiciones estrictas y específicas para el acceso, en primera instancia, a determinados clientes y redes de abastecimiento, y en segundo lugar, a mercados particulares.

Consecuentemente, importa para la relación comprador-vendedor y, por ello, debería tomar en cuenta la situación productiva particular de cada país, de cada región y de cada explotación individual, no pareciendo adecuado considerar los sistemas de certificación de manera general. En este sentido, la aceptación de cada esquema de certificación debe ser transparente, participativa y debería considerar las condiciones particulares (sistemas de producción, políticas ambientales, zonas de producción, comunidad involucrada en el proceso de generación de

biocombustibles) de cada país o región que presenta a cada uno de los esquemas de que se trate.

Otra de las dimensiones que debe ser tomada en cuenta es aquella relacionada con los costos asociados a los esquemas de certificación, lo que genera que frecuentemente los pequeños productores no puedan acceder a ellos.

5. Terminología utilizada en el documento Borrador Cero

A lo largo del documento se utilizan conceptos cuyo significado no ha sido consensuado a nivel internacional, tal es el caso de "energy security" y "green fuel", por lo que deben ser removidos.

Se considera adecuado no utilizar conceptos sobre los cuales no se ha arribado a un consenso a nivel internacional por parte de los Estados en relación con su significado, ya que esto complejizaría y obstacularizaría el debate a partir del Informe.

En lo que refiere a la cuestión particular de "energy security" , se recuerda que, tras diversas negociaciones, la misma no quedó incluida en los resultados de la Conferencia de las Naciones Unidas sobre Desarrollo Sostenible (Rio 20).

6. Menciones a normativas y/o políticas de ciertos países en materia de biocombustibles

No se considera apropiado hacer menciones a normativa o políticas de ciertos países como ejemplos a seguir. Tal como fuera señalado previamente, se destaca que bajo distintas características y circunstancias son distintos los elementos y variables a tener en cuenta y, como consecuencia, no resulta apropiado que se tomen como modelo a seguir políticas, indicadores o estándares que podrían no ser adecuados en función de otros sistemas de producción y otras realidades.

7. Mención a los "Principios relativos a la Inversión Agrícola Responsable" que se están desarrollando en el marco del Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria Mundial

En la recomendación de política Nro. 5, se hace mención al proceso de negociación de los Principios relativos a la Inversión Agrícola Responsable (PRAI por sus siglas en inglés). Al respecto, se considera que toda referencia que se haga a este instrumento, el cual se encuentra bajo proceso de negociación, no debería exceder el contenido de sus "Términos de Referencia" , que es lo único que fue acordado hasta el momento respecto a los PRAI.

8. Mensajes a transmitir: secuencia lógica del contenido y sustento teórico/científico

Cabe señalar que en algunas secciones del documento, por ejemplo en los primeros párrafo de las secciones 2.3.1 y 4.1.3, no queda claro el mensaje que se quiere transmitir ni la secuencia lógica de su contenido.

Asimismo, existe a lo largo del documento afirmaciones que no cuentan con fundamentos claros, tal la oración "In addition, large-scale monoculture may modify rainfall patterns" (última oración del quinto párrafo de la sección 4.2.3, página 59 -) pues difícilmente puede determinarse que un solo factor es el causante de la modificación de los patrones de precipitación a escala global.

Por lo tanto, se considera necesario que los mensajes y afirmaciones del Informe sean precisos, producto de fundamentos claros y debidamente justificados y se presenten de forma lógica y ordenada.

9. Para finalizar, es importante que el Informe del HLPE sobre "Biocombustibles y Seguridad Alimentaria" esté en línea con el mandato del 37° Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria Mundial, que consistió en "encargar al GANESAN, teniendo plenamente en cuenta los recursos y otras prioridades del CFS, que lleve a cabo un análisis comparativo basado en la literatura científica, tomando en consideración los trabajos realizados por la FAO y la Asociación Mundial de la Bioenergía (GBEP), de los efectos positivos y negativos de los biocombustibles en la seguridad alimentaria, con vistas a presentarlo al CFS".

Cordiales saludos

Representación Permanente de la
República Argentina ante la FAO
Piazza dell'Esquilino, 2
00185 Roma


Khaled Al-talafih , Jordan
FSN Forum

Dear Vincent Gitz

I would to thank you very much to give me the chance to participate in the discussion about biofuels and Food Security - V0 draft, I want to focus in these points:

1. We must be think about the world as one unit and each country complete the others and very important to realize that the food is very important because the shortage of food lead to big problems and many countries in many part of the world suffer from shortage of food and in sometimes famine (death), it is good to think that we must insure the food to them in good price.

2. We must concentrate about the shortage of water and climatic change and there negative effect on agriculture.

3. The number of population in the world increased rapidly and we must insure the food for them especially if we are take in our consideration the difficult factors mentioned before.

4. I want to assure about that our priority is feeding the people and investment each land and water for agriculture production not for any other things, and invest the other alternative for biofuels such as algae.


Khaled Al-talafih

World Vision International ,
FSN Forum

General Comments

  • We have reviewed this report and find it, on the whole, to be a very useful and comprehensive survey of thinking about the current situation, a thorough analysis of the data and a clear statement of the likely future impacts of biofuels.
  • We really appreciated the clear discussion of the importance of land tenure and security of access. The lack of well-defined land tenure/access rights in various countries means that particularly (put not only) nomadic pastoralists are very exposed to this change in land use.
  • We also were very pleased to see the well-developed discussion of the food security (including not only poverty and hunger but nutritional) implications of biofuels.
  • The same applies for the author’s consideration of the gender dimensions of impacts.
  • We are of the opinion that food-displacing biofuels are ultimately a waste of effort.  There is not enough land to grow all the fuel needed and feed humanity.  Moreover, the push to biofuels has spawned even higher levels of land grabbing than would be seen with only the massive demand for increased food production to feed a growing population.  As well, there is great debate as to whether there is any meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas reductions from food-displacing biofuels. 
  • For this reason, we are largely in agreement with the conclusions of the report – with the exception that it is probably not stated strongly enough.  The biofuel mandate which causes food sources to be displaced would appear to be misplaced and ultimately harmful, especially to the poor whom World Vision serves. We are in agreement with recommendation #1, although we feel that it could be stated more clearly by having two recommendations. The first would state that mandates and subsidies need to end, period. The second would then deal with the emergence of a global biofuels market in the absence of mandates and subsidies – and discuss how to control its growth.
  • Second, non-food-displacing biofuels remain elusive right now.  Jatropha, for example, only becomes productive as a biofuel when it is cultivated to the same extent as food crops (i.e. with water and fertilizers).  The first conclusion then applies.  Algae and cellulosic biofuels remain over the horizon for now. 
  • Biofuel research remains worthwhile, however, as algae-based fuels offer the possibility of both dealing with liquid fuel needs as well as reducing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. 
  • Recommendation #6 should clearly state that all multi-stakeholder schemes need to consider social dimensions.
  • Recommendation #9 – we agree with this very clear statement about non-food-competing crops and their competition for land, but it should mention pastoralism and grasslands explicitly
  • In support of the above comment, it would be helpful in the sections which mention “marginal” lands or lands not in productive use or “underutilized” lands, to develop this concept and the counterargument more fully. The reality is that just because land is not being actively cultivated or used at a specific point in time does not mean that it has not been nor ever will be used. Fallow land is land that has been in active use and will be again – in fact it is intentionally left idle as a means to restore/rebuild its productivity. If not intentionally left “idle”, its productivity would suffer an irreversible decline – as would the sustainability and resilience of that production. Why should this be classified as “underutilized” or “available”? The same would apply to grasslands that are used seasonally or left as grazing reserves for periods when other lands need a rest. These should not be considered as being unproductive or available – they are essential to the overall productivity and resilience of pastoral livelihoods. The report really needs to include some discussion as to what is meant by “underutilized” or “available” and by whose standards. The fact is that managed fallows and grasslands used for pastoralism should be considered as being in productive use.
  • There is some discussion of the potential of cassava as both a food and a biofuel feedstock. When mention is made of its use as a human food, including both its leaves and the root, it would seem appropriate to acknowledge that it is not without health risk. Inadequate processing fails to remove the cyanic acid from the plant and can lead to goitre and cretinism. More importantly, for the purposes of this discussion, there is no mention of the negative impacts of inappropriate cassava production in monoculture on soils (soil carbon, soil fertility, water holding capacity). While cassava is very productive in the humid tropics, that is not the case elsewhere. Its production is really only sustainable as part of the transition back to forest as the final crop in long-rotation shifting cultivation systems. We would question its sustainability in other systems.
  • Section 3.1 , where the distinction is made between impacts on price and impacts on hunger and poverty is very important – especially the distinction between the quantity and quality effect. The last paragraph is particularly relevant.
  • Section 5.4, first paragraph – there is mention of wages for outgrowing schemes. It is important to consider their potential to provide a living wage. If they are insufficient to provide for a household’s needs and people have to resort to continued food crop cultivation on the margins of the growing area, one winds up expanding the area under cultivation. Hence, the importance of considering the earning potential or the wages being offered and whether they can be reasonably expected to provide an adequate living.
Delegation of the European Union to the Holy See, to the Order of Malta and to the UN Organisations in Rome ...
FSN Forum

The report concludes on the "central role of biofuels in provoking high and volatile food prices". There is no consensus on the ranking of factors contributing to price hikes and volatility. The European Commission services would like to invite to update and complement the literature review on the impact of biofuels on price levels and volatility. While economic models have their limits, they nevertheless provide some assessment. This should indeed be completed by studies that are more suited to capture more disaggregated (e.g. local) effects.

While products like oilseeds are used for biofuels, co-products are used for feed purposes.  Developments in the global feed markets are missing (with the exception of  a dedicated chapter on soybeans imports into China). The global share of crops used for feed is almost 20 times larger than the share of crops used for energy purposes.  The feed dimension is also missing in the reference to the report of the Joint Research Centre quoted on P. 10.

Currently around 2% of the global arable land is used for biofuel production, and the global share of biofuels used in transport sector is far from 10%. Alternative transport fuels do not only include first generation biofuels produced from crops that require agricultural land. The diversity of different alternative transport fuels including gas, biogas, hydrogen and electricity use in transport sector is increasing, as well as the use of advanced biofuels that are produced from residues, waste and lignocelullosic material, as it is stated later in the text. In the EU – infrastructure for refuelling the vehicles and vessels already exists for all these types of fuels, and the Commission has just proposed measures under the Clean Power for Transport package to ensure the build-up of alternative fuel stations across Europe with common standards for their design and use.

See information, published on 24 January 2013: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/kallas/headlines/news/2013/01/clean-fuel-strategy_en.htm

See IRENA scenarios on options of different pathways of renewable energy by 2030:

[See attachemnet for graph Ed.]

Information source: IRENA Doubling the Global Share of Renewable Energy

A Roadmap to 2030: http://irena.org/DocumentDownloads/Publications/IRENA%20REMAP%202030%20working%20paper.pdf

Biofuels are used, particularly in many developing countries in remote areas for many purposes, including cooking (to replace charcoal) and access to energy (incl. lightning). It is not limited to transport sector only, as it is rightly stated later in the text.

The EC participates the work of GBEP, BEFSI, and FAO on development of tools how to improve the knowledge about the impacts of bioenergy on food security and how to develop integrated energy – food systems. 

Comments on the text:

1. We would like to invite the experts to make necessary amendments in the 4th and the 5th sentence on page 1o of recommendations and on pages 7 and 14 as well as in Appendix, page 61 as regards the EU policy, since the 0 version does not correctly reflect the EU policy on biofuels.

In 2003, the Directive on promotion of biofuels and other renewable energy sources in the transport sector was adopted (2003/30/EC). I.a., it introduced an indicative target of 5,75% of the share of the renewable energy sources in the transport sector, not limited to biofuels only. However, the Member States were not obliged to reach this target. This Directive was repealed by the Renewable Energy Directive of 2009.

The EU Renewable Energy Directive of 2009 sets a target for the 10% share of all renewable energy sources in the transport sector by 2020, that includes all renewable energy sources, not only biofuels. The choice of the renewable energy sources and support instruments is a competence of EU Member States. Mandatory or indicative biofuel incorporation targets and blending mandates are low for most of the Member States and other support instruments differ from one Member State to the other. At the EU level legal incentives and financial support is provided for development and deployment of advanced biofuel technology.

Based on the Renewable Energy Directive (Article 19.6), in October 2012, the European Commission tabled a legislative proposal to limit the contribution of conventional biofuels towards the renewable energy target to 5% and to increase the support for advanced biofuels that are produced from feedstock that do not use land, including algae, straw, and various types of waste. The Commission's proposal was submitted for co-decision to the EU Member States and to the European Parliament.

Summary of the legislative proposal of 17 October 2012:

Adopted on 17 October 2012: Impact assessment and legislative proposal on indirect land use change related to biofuels as required by the EU Renewable Energy and the EU Fuel Quality Directive:

While existing investments should be protected, the current proposal:

  • limits the contribution that conventional biofuels (with a risk of ILUC emissions) make towards attainment of the targets in the Renewable Energy Directive to current consumption levels (5%);
  • improves the greenhouse gas performance of biofuel production processes (reducing associated emissions) by raising the greenhouse gas saving threshold for new installations;
  • encourages a greater market penetration of advanced (low-ILUC) biofuels by allowing such fuels to contribute more to the targets in the Renewable Energy Directive than conventional biofuels; and
  • improves the accounting of greenhouse gas emissions by obliging Member States and fuel suppliers to report the estimated indirect land-use change emissions of biofuels.

All documents, including the legislative proposal, FAQ and Impact Assessment can be found on the DG Energy homepage:


The decision process on that proposal is on-going within the EU, especially in the Council and the European Parliament.

Therefore, related references to the EU would need to be specified, especially on p.14, under Land use change, the following specifications could be added:

In October 2012, the European Commission proposed to modify the mandated EU targets and to cap biofuels based on food crops at 5%. The EU decision process on that legislative proposal is on-going.

2. Sentence 3 on page 5 as well as the draft recommendation No 4 on page 6 regarding the impact of biofuels to the position of women do mention only challenges that are related to the land use rights and access to forest products. For example, evidence from Mozambique shows also positive experiences with bioethanol as a replacement product for charcoal which improves firstly the quality of life of women as it saves the time needed for cooking while improving health conditions while saving the wood and energy needed for production of charcoal. (Clean Star Initiative: http://www.cleanstarmozambique.com).

3. Sentence 6 on page 5, recommendations 6 and 7 and information on page 51 do not correctly reflect the EU biofuel sustainability scheme which includes mandatory sustainability criteria, i.a., related to the land use, greenhouse gas emission savings compared to fossil fuels and biodiversity.

Other environmental and social issues as sustainability related to water, air and soil quality as well as food security, are addressed already under current legislation through monitoring and reporting requirements as well as through most of the voluntary biofuel certification.

In January 2013, the European Commission had adopted 13 voluntary schemes which are valid in all 27 Member States. Schemes in non-EU countries do also include environmental and social criteria  http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/biofuels/sustainability_schemes_en.htm

Experience with these schemes since 2011 shows no indication that they could become innocuous, as the voluntary schemes with multi-stakeholder participation are the most popular in the exporter countries to the EU. The Commission's report, i.a., on impacts of the EU production and use of biofuels on the environment and social aspects will be published shortly.

The EU and many EU – Member States are Members of GBEP and participate in the work of GBEB on bioenergy sustainability. In 2012 GBEB adopted 24 sustainability indicators, which are currently being tested in both, developed and developing countries.

Statistics show that most of EU biofuel consumption stems from EU sources, with only about 20% of biofuels being imported. Most of the EU produced biodiesel feedstock in 2010 was produced from EU grown rapeseed (56%), followed by soybean (13%) and palm oil (9%). More than half of the EU produced ethanol is made of EU produced feedstock (30% wheat, 30% sugar beet, smaller contributions from barley and rye), followed by imported sugarcane and maize.

In 2008, the total gross land use associated with EU biofuel consumption in 2008 was estimated to be 7 Mha, of which 3.6 Mha in the EU and 3.3Mha in third countries (estimated that 590 kha is required per Mtoe of biofuels). If accounting for co-products that reduce land needs elsewhere, the total net land use for EU biofuels is estimated at 3.6 Mha.[1]

4. As regards the draft recommendation 8 recent Commission studies show the importance of proper agronomic analysis and training as well as strategic environmental impact assessments (Reference to the study will be provided once it is published).

5. As regards information on the discussion around the Land Grabbing issue, described on page 42, we would like to invite the experts to further refer to on-going work within the CFS on the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security and to the on-going consultation on Responsible Agricultural Investments.

An increasing body of new studies have emerged covering the phenomenon of large scale land acquisition; all point towards one commonly recognised problem: a lack of transparency and availability or reliable data. Recent wide ranging studies undertaken by the World Bank[2] and most recently by the Land Matrix Project[3], note the remarkable difficulties in obtaining reliable data from target country registries as well as from investors. Data on large scale land acquisition is most difficult to obtain on the actual implantation status of the announced contracts in terms of production being carried out, previous land users and land use, the displacement of food production and land evictions. It is also difficult to precisely determine the final use of crops grown as part of deals in large scale land acquisition, the growth of investors’ interests in “flex crops” and crops destined for “multiple uses” i.e. either biofuels or food (sugarcane, soy, palm oil) in terms of area covered in hectares points out that the potential of using crops for biofuel production is an important consideration in investment strategies.

6. P.14

The sentence "In addition Europe´s cooperation for development programs would no longer support biofuels investment projects" should be replaced by "The Commission is currently carrying out evaluation of the impacts of the EU-funded biofuel projects on development in ACP countries".

The Commission indeed launched a study to assess the impact of biofuels production on developing countries from the point of view of Policy Coherence for Development. While the study is not fully finalised, the Commission has decided to move forward with utmost prudence.

[2] See: K. Deininger, D. Byerlee et al Rising Global Interest in Farmland. Can it Yield Sustainable and Equitable Benefits?, The World Bank (2011), p. 15

[3] The Land Matrix Partnership is made of ILC, CIRAD, The GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies and GIZ (The Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit). The database has been made publically available at http://landportal.info/landmatrix


United States of America ,
FSN Forum

Please open the attachment to the see the itemized comments.

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply , Brazil
FSN Forum

The FAO has been a frequent actor in the global discussion about biofuels and their potential impact on food security since such kind of energy has emerged as a possible alternative to fossil fuels a few decades ago.

                         As the UN body responsible for dealing with issues related to food and agriculture FAO has legitimacy to be an important voice globally about the issue here mentioned. Such voice, though, shall be based on empirical, fact based research with impartial point of view as to inform the general public of the pros and cons of biofuel production and consumption and its potential effects on food security.

                         The FAO HLPE consultation paper is a clear statement that such impartial and technical perspective on the issue of biofuels has not been taken. There are many evidence poor statements on the text and one can clearly see that a thorough review of literature on biofuels and its effects was not undertaken in the preparation of the Document.

                         The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply in Brazil, being a major public actor in the design and implementation of public policies to nationally foster biofuel development, expresses discontent with the current version of the Document as it lacks a balanced view on the matter of biofuels.

                         The biofuels policies in Brazil go through a complex dialog process between governmental bodies and private sector stakeholders in order to build a scheme for the production of biofuels in a sustainable and balanced manner.

To illustrate such process and outcomes one can mention the Sugarcane Agroecological Zoning, the Palm Oil Agroecological Zoning, The Low Emission Agricultural Plan and the Social Stamp Scheme for Biodiesel production.

                         Also as part of this dialogue in Brazil about biofuels, we are aware that private sector entities and academy institutions in Brazil have already made detailed review of the FAO HLPE Document highlighting a number of suggestions and corrections regarding biofuels in Brazil and other parts of the Document.

                         Our comment, then, will be focused on the influence power such Document can have once published. As already mentioned here, FAO is a legit UN body to discuss topics related to agriculture and food and its documents and public opinions have great influence in society in general.

                         It is with this in mind that MAPA stresses that such Draft version must be carefully reviewed in order to produce a document that gives the general public the most reliable information on the issue of biofuels and its potential effects on food security.

H.J.M. de Groot Leiden Institute of Chemistry, Netherlands
FSN Forum

Please find below my thoughts, in the form of a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats analysis as I see it from my own non-normative scientific perspective.

S: The draft report on biofuels and food security is an example par excellence of scientific integrity at the executive level, making readily available to the public scientific data that are neither distorted nor concealed to serve a political agenda. A sound basis for the further analysis below.

W: The comprensive and profound overview of the report raises one question with me: the draft report does not consider how agriculture can become a meaningful part of the solution to the global energy challenge. The CO2 problem is not solved, and the only market that can make a meaningful contribution to recycling CO2 is the fuel market. Apparently agriculture is considered by our societies already part of the solution, irrespective of the fundamental problem that lies in the relative inefficiency of biomass for energy as plants are unlikely to transform more than 0.5% and the observation that current biofuels practices are insufficient. This in itself is not surprising. In all possible scenarios for a sustainable energy system solar power plays a mayor role. However, it is a dilute energy source, it does require surface on earth to collect the energy, and solar energy production needs to be balanced with demand by fuel.

O: I don’t think the current effort in biofuels can be fully put away as some perverse form of market failure, and I also don’t think we will converge on a small contribution of farmers in the end, which I feel the report suggests. The fundamental opportunity lies in the relative inefficiency of biomass for energy. As plants are unlikely to transform more than 0.5%, there is 99.5% of the incoming energy left unused in farming. While food is and will always remain the priority of agriculture both for humanitarian and cultural reasons, there currently exists a potential 200-fold increase in energy yield to explore, far more than what is needed for maintaining both food and energy security. I find it difficult to imagine that society will allow a hugely inefficient industrial practice go on for much longer. Other sectors are under strong and continuous pressure to improve their energy efficiency continuously. Why not agriculture? Farmers own the land and thus the source of energy. In addition current biofuels practice shows that the farming business model is capable of producing high volume at low cost. To overcome the efficiency hurdles in current biofuels practice while maintaining full capability for food and feed production requires technology for multiple use of the same area. Windmills are an early example, where food production and energy conversion go hand in hand. This requires technological breakthroughs, in domestication of algae and their improvement with synthetic biology, in breeding for the development of food crops with high yield at low light, in re-inventing natural photosynthesis with highly efficient (semi-) artificial devices for solar to fuel conversion that can be deployed on a large scale, and in integration of such new technologies with the existing agricultural infrastructure. Since the farming business model is here a critical success factor, city dwellers will adopt the new technologies as well, for food, and for solar energy. They will become part-time farmers, we see that already happening in the Netherlands on a small scale.

T: That we maintain a huge agricultural infrastructure that is highly inefficient for too long. Energy transitions take time, typically 30 years, which implies that we have to be at the start of exponential growth with new technology by ~2020 if we want to be sustainable by 2050. It will be difficult to let agriculture walk away with not optimally using the incoming power. But the technology that should allow landowners to take their responsibility in our societies and economies is not yet there and needs to be developed urgently. In this respect I find the statements on p 20 missing the point. The agricultural revolution of the past century was the first major improvement of agricultural practice since the stone age. I think it is time to speed up a bit now, in learning how to domesticate and improve photosynthetic micro-organisms, in designer phototrophs, breeding of dedicated plant phenotypes, devices for solar fuels, and last but not least, integration of the technology with the broadest possible scope, and with due respect for the biodiversity on the planet and for its inhabitants in different cultural settings.

Global Renewable Fuels Alliance , Canada
FSN Forum

The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance feels the current draft of the HLPE’s Biofuels and Food Security report is negatively biased against biofuels. The draft report uses data that is incorrect, unsubstantiated and omits key areas of research that would change the reports final recommendations dramatically if this information were included in the final report. The GRFA's suggested changes can be found in the attached document.

The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting biofuel friendly policies internationally. Alliance members represent over 65% of the global biofuels production from 44 countries. Through the development of new technologies and best practices, the Alliance members are committed to producing renewable fuels with the smallest possible footprint.