Friday, July 5, 2013

Bioenergy and food security need linked policy, says UN

Rachel Mundy in Biofuels' impact on global food security can be lessened by linked food and energy policies, says a panel of independent experts that is also calling for more research and development. Biofuels, and bioenergy more generally, are plant-derived agricultural sources of transport fuel, or of energy for electricity generation, cooking and heating.

'First generation' biofuels rely on food crops, and their markets can help or hinder in terms of whether people have access to sufficient food — for example by increasing job opportunities and income, or by increasing food prices and land losses. To assess these impacts, the UN Committee on World Food Security asked the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Nutrition to draft a report, which was launched last week (26 June).

The report, 'Biofuels and Food Security', calls for coordinated food, biofuel and bioenergy policies that prevent biofuels from compromising international food security. "It is artificial to divide food and energy policies," says Vincent Gitz, HLPE coordinator.

For example, sugar cane can be used for food or for ethanol fuel. Similarly, molasses can become food or can produce heat and energy for rural homes without access to grid electricity. The report argues that national biofuel policies should sit within a broader combined food security and energy security strategy that uses ratified certification schemes to ensure sustainable production....

Corn stover tar from pyrolysis by microwave heating. This shot is by Alf Inge Myhre Tunheim

No comments: