Balancing food security and biofuels
ROME – The Committee on World Food Security (CFS) stressed the link between biofuels and food security, saying that the "progressive realization of the right to adequate food for all" should be a priority concern in biofuel development, after a week of intense discussions. Biofuel development "should not compromise food security, and should especially consider women and smallholders," said the multi-stakeholder committee for food security and nutrition.
The Oct. 7-11 meeting drew approximately 750 people, including more than 130 government delegations, 100 civil society and 50 private-sector organizations. After these talks, the CFS also agreed to integrate smallholder agriculture into national policies, strategies and research aimed at boosting investment and sustainable development.
Family farmers, fishers and others whose livelihoods depend on smallholder agriculture in developing countries account for most of the 840 million chronically hungry people in the world, according to a recent UN hunger report titled State of Food Insecurity in the World.
Regarding biofuels and food security, backed by a report from the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on Food Security and Nutrition, the CFS testified that biofuel development encompassed "both opportunities and risks in economic, social and environmental aspects," depending on the context and practices. "In some cases, current biofuel production creates competition between biofuel crops and food crops," it added.
The CFS encouraged the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and other stakeholders to look at ways to help countries strengthen their capacities to assess their situation with regards to biofuels, taking into account food security concerns at global, regional and national levels and legitimate land tenure rights.
"Governments and other appropriate stakeholders are encouraged to review biofuels policies - where applicable and if necessary - according to balanced science-based assessments of the opportunities and risks they may present for food security," the committee said.
The committee also called on biofuel research and development partners to improve the efficiency of biofuels regarding both resources and processes, and to devise solutions adapted to the needs of all stakeholders, including those in least-developed countries, as well as women and smallholders who are most in need of access to modern energy services. The CFS' recommendation called on research and development partners to adapt biofuel production and processing to modulate the supply chain between food, feed and energy, depending on conditions.