Biofuels and food availability

Biofuels have raised criticisms from some stakeholders claiming that the use of conventional or food crop based biofuels is displacing crops grown for food production. This criticism, which has contributed to the proposal of limiting the use of conventional biofuels, is disregarding the improvement in agricultural production as well as the amount of co-products produced which are used as animal feed.

Biofuel critics raise the debate over food and fuel to claim that both outlets are in competition, but:

  • in fact, 0.8 hectare of land produces 1.5 tonnes of rapeseed meal, which can be fed to livestock, in addition to the 1 tonne of rapeseed oil, which can be used to produce biodiesel
  • in fact, 13 million tonnes of protein meals are co-produced thanks to biodiesel production, which reduce the EU imports of protein from 3rd countries

  • in fact, biofuels policy has created incentives to improve agricultural yields and productivity, which helped reduce demand for additional land.
    • E.g. rapeseed yields have increased by over 19% in the EU27 since 2000.

 Read more on food, fuel and feed complementarity in the FEDIOL Food Feed and Fuel: Deeper Look

Responding to another false claim, academics consider that the impact of biofuels on food prices and on the volatility of commodity markets are largely overstated, as there are numerous factors influencing agricultural markets and international food prices.

Read more in Presentations on food availability and food price volatility, as presented on 20 March at the European Parliament:

Success Story: Rapeseed

As the main feedstock that is used to produce more than 65% European biodiesel, increased rapeseed cultivation in the EU brings numerous benefits for the environment and EU farmers. Rapeseed is a break-crop harvested by the farmers within the practice of sustainable agriculture, which helps prevent plant diseases, restores the soil nitrogen balance, increases the yields of following crops and reduces the need for artificial fertilizers’ and pesticides on the farm.