The Right to Food and the Impact of Liquid Biofuels (Agrofuels)

Author: Asbjørn Eide

Right to Food Study, 2008.

The study “The Right to Food and the Impact of Liquid Biofuels (Agrofuels)” by Asbjørn Eide examines the impact of biofuel production on the enjoyment of the human right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger.  It follows from internationally recognised human rights that States have a core obligation to ensure freedom from hunger for all, and that any decisions, which may negatively affect the enjoyment of the right to food should be reviewed. The study explores whether and to what extent biofuel production has undermined or is likely in the future to undermine or weaken the access to food for vulnerable people, and whether there are any overriding ethical concerns that can justify biofuel production even if it harms access to necessary and sufficient food to avoid hunger.

The study concludes that the liquid biofuel production has indeed contributed and is in the near future likely to continue to weaken the access to adequate food or to the resources by which vulnerable people can feed themselves, in at least three ways: Firstly, by contributing significantly to the increase in food prices. Secondly, by causing land concentration for plantation-type production, due to considerations of economy of scale, which have led and are likely to continue to cause evictions or marginalisation of vulnerable groups and individuals. Third, biofuel production causes a number of environmental problems, reduces biodiversity, and lead to competition for water.

In the light of this, the study also addresses the question whether there are sufficient ethical justifications for biofuel production to override the negative consequences and whether there can be ways in which liquid biofuel production can be made compatible with full respect for the right to adequate food for all, and particularly with the right of everyone to be free from hunger.



Search publications