The study did not account for the use of grain byproducts from biofuels in these calculations.
When looking more closely at the water-food-energy nexus, D’Odorico says the study found that crops used to produce one TJ of biofuel would be sufficient to feed 110 people in terms of ethanol and feed 90 people in terms of biodiesel. When this number is scaled up, the report found that about 280 million people, more than a quarter of the global malnourished population, could be fed with the crop calories used to produce all biofuels in 2013.
“In this study we were discussing the possibility of using biofuels to completely replace our reliance on fossil fuels, and to go from a fossil fuel economy to a solar economy, where energy is coming from the sun that grows crops,” says D’Odorico. “If you want to do this, and if you want to completely replace fossil fuels with biofuels, you will undermine food security for sure, because you won’t be able to grow enough crops to feed everybody. So we wanted to look at what extent we could replace fossil fuels with biofuels without undermining food security. There is an issue of availability, and there will not be availability if we replace even 20 percent of our fossil fuel energy with bioenergy by using food resources.”
“When you talk about replacing another 10 percent of fossil fuels with biofuels, it will impact food prices, which will impact the poor of the world having access to food. Our analogy has been done on another types of availability, but we know there is a strong inequality to food and the poor of the world would remain without, even if all land used for biofuel production were used for food production,” he adds.
D’Odorico stresses there is not enough land to produce both biofuels and food, even when taking into account improvements in the production process and an evolution of feedstocks. As a result the paper calls for countries that have developed policies around biofuels as a means of helping to meet climate mitigation requirements be revised.