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Land use competition for production of food and liquid biofuels: An analysis of the arguments in the current debate


  • Rathmann, Régis
  • Szklo, Alexandre
  • Schaeffer, Roberto


This article analyses the current state of the debate over competition for land use, by means of an index of the main arguments in favor and against the production of liquid biofuels and the impacts on food production. Based on this index, an analytic framework is constructed to establish the causal relations indicated by the existing studies on this competition. We find that the emergence of agro-energy has altered the land use dynamic, albeit not yet significantly, with a shift of areas traditionally used to grow foods over to crops to produce biofuels. This has been contributing to raise food prices in the short run. However, it is probable that this is not the only factor determining this trend, nor will it last over the long run. The challenge is to conciliate the production of biofuels with the production of foods in sustainable form.

Suggested Citation

  • Rathmann, Régis & Szklo, Alexandre & Schaeffer, Roberto, 2010. "Land use competition for production of food and liquid biofuels: An analysis of the arguments in the current debate," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 14-22.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:renene:v:35:y:2010:i:1:p:14-22
    DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2009.02.025

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Sumathi, S. & Chai, S.P. & Mohamed, A.R., 2008. "Utilization of oil palm as a source of renewable energy in Malaysia," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 12(9), pages 2404-2421, December.
    2. N. Turpin & P. Dupraz & C. Thenail & A. Joannon & J. Baudry & S. Herviou & P. Verburg, 2009. "Shaping the landscape: agricultural policies and local biodiversity schemes," Post-Print hal-00453894, HAL.
    3. Searchinger, Timothy & Heimlich, Ralph & Houghton, R. A. & Dong, Fengxia & Elobeid, Amani & Fabiosa, Jacinto F. & Tokgoz, Simla & Hayes, Dermot J. & Yu, Hun-Hsiang, 2008. "Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change," Staff General Research Papers Archive 12881, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    4. Goldemberg, José & Coelho, Suani Teixeira & Guardabassi, Patricia, 2008. "The sustainability of ethanol production from sugarcane," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 2086-2097, June.
    5. Mathews, John A., 2007. "Biofuels: What a Biopact between North and South could achieve," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(7), pages 3550-3570, July.
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