Fuel vs. Food? A New Study from a UVA Environmental Scientist and Colleagues Shows about a Third of the World’s Malnourished Population Could Be Fed by Using Resources Now Used for Biofuel Production.
by Fariss Samarrai (University of Virginia) As strategies for energy security, investment opportunities and energy policies prompt ever-growing production and consumption of biofuels like bioethanol and biodiesel, land and water that could otherwise be used for food production increasingly are used to produce crops for fuel.
About 4 percent of the world’s agricultural land and 3 to 4 percent of its fresh water are now used for growing biofuels, according to a new study published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. About one-third of the malnourished people in the world, the findings suggest, could be fed by using these resources for food production.
“We are investigating and evaluating the affects of biofuels on food security – the food-energy nexus – and its link with the global appropriation of land and water,” said Paolo D’Odorico, an environmental sciences professor at the University of Virginia who co-wrote the paper with colleagues in Italy. “The land and water resources claimed by biofuel production have been poorly quantified, and we are trying to gain better understanding to help inform public policy.” READ MORE Abstract (Nature Scientific Reports)