Biofuels are a key part of the global agricultural complex
* This blog post appeared in the Financial Times on 12 July 2015
Sir, It is reassuring that José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, has recognised that biofuels production “can be an effective means to increase food security” and, if done right, means “we can have more fuel, more food, and greater prosperity for all”. This echoes Mr da Silva’s previous comments at the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture this year when he said that biofuels should not be seen as a threat to food production but should be seen as being a key part of the global agriculture complex and a supportive pillar of food production, particularly in poorer regions of the world.
Mr da Silva said that further deployment of biofuels could help drive investment in agriculture, increase productivity, create new employment in rural areas and reduce our global reliance on crude oil. He is right: there does need to be a paradigm shift in the food vs fuel debate because it is not a zero-sum choice and food and biofuel production can coexist in harmony.
Now it is time for some fundamental facts: since 1992, global hunger has decreased by 21 per cent and food commodity prices are the lowest they have been since 2009. This has occurred during a period of unprecedented global biofuels production expansion, which proves that it is possible to produce biofuels sustainably and in support of food production. And by doing so we can meet the twin challenge of reducing global hunger and oil use in transport. It’s a win-win.
It is time to stop viewing biofuels as a threat to food production. Instead we should all focus on how we can best grasp their opportunities in the most sustainable way possible.
Bliss Baker - Secretary-General, Global Renewable Fuels Alliance (GRFA)
Robert Wright - Secretary-General, European renewable ethanol association (ePURE)
Bob Dinneen - President and Chief Executive, US Renewable Fuels Association (RFA)
Andrea Kent - President, Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (CRFA)
Elizabeth Farina - President, Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association (UNICA)