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

Agricultural Development Economics Division (ESA) FAO,
FSN Forum

Dear Colleagues,

We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the HLPE’s zero-draft consultation paper (dated 9 January 2013) on Biofuels and Food Security. We have several general comments to offer.

  • First, the report focuses primarily on liquid biofuels for transport; it should be noted that different forms of bioenergy for different purposes may well have very different implications for food security.
  • Second, many important statements are made without citing references (including key FAO references on the topic), and arguments are difficult to follow in some places.
  • Third, the report devotes considerable attention to the price impacts of biofuels, but does not sufficiently address the impacts of expanded biofuel production on farmers’ incomes. Likewise the report does not distinguish clearly enough between short-term and longer-term impacts, and thus paints an incomplete picture of impacts on food security.
  • Fourth, we note a disconnect between the main body of the report, which is largely critical of biofuels (or at least of first-generation liquid biofuels for transport), and the Draft Policy Recommendations, which are broader and more balanced. There are sharply divergent views on this topic, which is why it deserves careful attention by the HLPE and the CFS; these will not likely be resolved by the HLPE or the CFS, but the paper should nevertheless provide a balanced assessment of both sides of the argument.

These and other points are elaborated in the specific comments attached. We hope they are useful in revising the paper to provide a more nuanced and complete discussion of impacts on food security.

Many thanks to Seth Meyer for his work on this.

Best regards,


See the attachment:CFS Biofuel Paper Review.docx