Biofuel-Food Market Interactions: A Review of Modeling Approaches and Findings
The interaction between biofuels and food markets remains a policy issue for a number of reasons. There is a continuing need to understand the role of biofuels in the recent spikes in global food prices. Also, there is an ongoing discussion of changes to biofuel policy as a means to cope with severe weather-induced crop losses. Lastly, there are potential interactions between food markets and advanced biofuels, although most of the latter are expected to be produced from non-food feedstocks. This study reviews the existing literature on the food market impacts of biofuels. Findings suggest that initial conclusions attributing most of the spike in global food prices between 2005 and 2008 to biofuels have been revised. Instead, a multitude of factors, in addition to biofuels, converged during the period. Quantitative estimates of the impacts of biofuels on food markets vary significantly due to differences in modeling approaches, geographical scope, and assumptions about a number of crucial factors. In addition, many studies do not adequately account for the effects of macroeconomic changes, adverse weather conditions and direct market interventions during the recent food price spikes when evaluating the role of biofuels.
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