Bioenergy can support food security, a new report says, challenging the argument that biofuels exacerbate global hunger.

According to the study, released this week, well-designed bioenergy policies could have strongly positive effects on food security and help attract much needed investments in agriculture in poor countries. It points out that food and bioenergy do not necessarily compete for land, and that land is often not the main factor affecting food security.

Promoting flex crops is one of the options explored in the report, through which synergies between bioenergy and food production can be achieved. Flex crops can be used both for food and fuel and shifted between industries to smooth out market volatilities.

“Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol program has demonstrated through a 40-year process of continuous monitoring, learning and adaptation that it is possible to couple increased incentives for land restoration and ecosystem services with enhanced food security and poverty reduction,” said Glaucia Souza of the University of Sao Paulo.

The report was prepared by researchers from 10 institutions, including the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Imperial College London, the World Bank and University of Sao Paulo.


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