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Challenging the food vs. fuel dilemma: Genealogical analysis of the biofuel discourse pursued by international organizations


  • Kuchler, Magdalena
  • Linnér, Björn-Ola


This paper looks critically at how food and agriculture-, energy security-, and climate change-oriented international organizations have consolidated and modified the biofuel discourse in relation to the agricultural system. Using Foucault-based genealogical analysis of discursive formations, the paper traces the last 20years of institutions’ biofuel debate in relation to rural production. We find that the prevalent motive is an aspiration to combine the agriculture and energy markets into one, which prompts structural changes and challenges in the rural sector. This has implications for the future role and shape of global agriculture and – contrary to the food vs. fuel perspective – calls for re-conceptualizing the biofuel debate as the food vs. food dilemma.

Suggested Citation

  • Kuchler, Magdalena & Linnér, Björn-Ola, 2012. "Challenging the food vs. fuel dilemma: Genealogical analysis of the biofuel discourse pursued by international organizations," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 581-588.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfpoli:v:37:y:2012:i:5:p:581-588
    DOI: 10.1016/j.foodpol.2012.06.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Cohen, Marc J. & Tirado, Cristina & Aberman, Noora-Lisa & Thompson, Brian, 2008. "Impact of climate change and bioenergy on nutrition," IFPRI books, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), number Climate:2008.
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    3. Kuchler, Magdalena, 2014. "Sweet dreams (are made of cellulose): Sociotechnical imaginaries of second-generation bioenergy in the global debate," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 431-437.
    4. Gasparatos, Alexandros & Doll, Christopher N.H. & Esteban, Miguel & Ahmed, Abubakari & Olang, Tabitha A., 2017. "Renewable energy and biodiversity: Implications for transitioning to a Green Economy," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 161-184.
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    7. Sanjid, A. & Masjuki, H.H. & Kalam, M.A. & Rahman, S.M. Ashrafur & Abedin, M.J. & Palash, S.M., 2013. "Impact of palm, mustard, waste cooking oil and Calophyllum inophyllum biofuels on performance and emission of CI engine," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 27(C), pages 664-682.
    8. Tse, H. & Leung, C.W. & Cheung, C.S., 2015. "Investigation on the combustion characteristics and particulate emissions from a diesel engine fueled with diesel-biodiesel-ethanol blends," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 83(C), pages 343-350.
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    Biofuels; Bioenergy; Food; Agriculture; Energy; Discourse;


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