Special Issue "Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns"

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A special issue of Agriculture (ISSN 2077-0472).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2012)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Terence J. Centner (Website)

Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, 313 Conner Hall, The University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-7509, USA
Fax: +1 706 542 0739
Interests: environmental regulation; environmental policy; agricultural regulation; law

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

With governmental commitments to diversifying energy sources, raising crops for biofuels has been an important component of the agricultural production.  Various governmental laws and regulations have provided incentives to producers, processors, and buyers of biofuel.  These incentives have led producers to alter their production practices with corresponding effects on the resources and the environment.  More recently, advanced biofuels such as cellulosic ethanol have been differentiated so their production and use might receive further encouragement.  Due to a number of inherent limitations on first- and second-generation biofuels, increased attention is being given to the production of third-generation biofuels.

Governmental policies concerning biofuels are affecting food supplies, water resources, changes in land use, sustainability, ecosystem services, and the loss of rain forests.  Accompanying large scale production of biofuels are concerns about international agricultural commodity trade, climate change, and environmental quality.  This issue will examine the conditions wrought by biofuel production as it relates to food security, the environment, and trade.

Prof. Terence J. Centner
Guest Editor

Keywords

  • biofuels
  • ethanol
  • energy
  • land use
  • food security
  • environmental quality
  • climate change
  • trade

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle The Policy Objectives of a Biofuel Industry in Canada: An Assessment
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 436-451; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040436
Received: 8 October 2012 / Revised: 5 November 2012 / Accepted: 10 December 2012 / Published: 17 December 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (223 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Canada has a huge stock of biomass resources, which provides a basis (and a temptation) for development of a major bio-fuels industry. Both federal and provincial governments have engaged in a wide array of subsidies, mandates, and other measures to stimulate production [...] Read more.
Canada has a huge stock of biomass resources, which provides a basis (and a temptation) for development of a major bio-fuels industry. Both federal and provincial governments have engaged in a wide array of subsidies, mandates, and other measures to stimulate production and consumption of biofuels. As a result, biofuels has become a growth industry in Canada with production of ethanol almost 10 times higher than it was ten years earlier. However, this has come at considerable cost to taxpayers. Increased biofuel production has resulted in minimal reduction in greenhouse gases, short run (but not long run) increases in net farm income (that benefited grain and oilseed producers but hurt livestock producers), large increases in the prices of farm land due to the higher grain and oilseed prices, and minimal impacts on rural economic diversification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Biofuels and the Future of Food: Competition and Complementarities
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 414-435; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040414
Received: 14 September 2012 / Revised: 12 November 2012 / Accepted: 19 November 2012 / Published: 11 December 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (362 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we draw the key linkages between future biofuels growth on agricultural commodity prices, and highlight some of the key uncertainties over OECD fuel and energy policies, and their implications for global agricultural markets and the world food situation. Our [...] Read more.
In this paper, we draw the key linkages between future biofuels growth on agricultural commodity prices, and highlight some of the key uncertainties over OECD fuel and energy policies, and their implications for global agricultural markets and the world food situation. Our results show some of the implications that biofuels expansion has on crop area expansion in regions where environmental concerns exist over land use change and the possible impacts on the environment. We also point to some promising areas for future research and specify some implications for policy interventions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Potential of Waste Water Use for Jatropha Cultivation in Arid Environments
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 376-392; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040376
Received: 28 July 2012 / Revised: 22 November 2012 / Accepted: 29 November 2012 / Published: 4 December 2012
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (294 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Water is crucial for socio-economic development and healthy ecosystems. With the actual population growth and in view of future water scarcity, development calls for improved sectorial allocation of groundwater and surface water for domestic, agricultural and industrial use. Instead of intensifying the [...] Read more.
Water is crucial for socio-economic development and healthy ecosystems. With the actual population growth and in view of future water scarcity, development calls for improved sectorial allocation of groundwater and surface water for domestic, agricultural and industrial use. Instead of intensifying the pressure on water resources, leading to conflicts among users and excessive pressure on the environment, sewage effluents, after pre-treatment, provide an alternative nutrient-rich water source for agriculture in the vicinity of cities. Water scarcity often occurs in arid and semiarid regions affected by droughts and large climate variability and where the choice of crop to be grown is limited by the environmental factors. Jatropha has been introduced as a potential renewable energy resource since it is claimed to be drought resistant and can be grown on marginal sites. Sewage effluents provide a source for water and nutrients for cultivating jatropha, a combined plant production/effluent treatment system. Nevertheless, use of sewage effluents for irrigation in arid climates carries the risk of salinization. Thus, potential irrigation with sewage effluents needs to consider both the water requirement of the crop and those needed for controlling salinity build-up in the top soil. Using data from a case study in Southern Morocco, irrigation requirements were calculated using CROPWAT 8.0. We present here crop evapotranspiration during the growing period, required irrigation, the resulting nutrient input and the related risk of salinization from the irrigation of jatropha with sewage effluent. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle The Agricultural Ethics of Biofuels: The Food vs. Fuel Debate
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 339-358; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040339
Received: 18 September 2012 / Revised: 25 October 2012 / Accepted: 26 October 2012 / Published: 6 November 2012
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (229 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Plant-based transportation fuels were the focus of extended criticism in the press, especially during 2008 when a portion of the blame for a spike in global food prices was associated with growth of the United States’ corn ethanol industry. The critique is [...] Read more.
Plant-based transportation fuels were the focus of extended criticism in the press, especially during 2008 when a portion of the blame for a spike in global food prices was associated with growth of the United States’ corn ethanol industry. The critique is based on an unsophisticated portrayal of the ethical issues at stake in the food security implications of biofuel. Three ethical critiques can be leveled at the food vs. fuel debate. First, although market drivers of biofuels indeed skew consumption of agricultural grains, this is not a problem that is unique to biofuels. Second, the critique does not reflect an adequate understanding of the way that rising food prices and changes in agricultural technology affect the food security of the poorest people. Third, although rising food prices could be beneficial to poor farm producers among the world’s poor, it is unlikely that benefits will materialize in the absence of concerted programs to deliberately select biofuel development strategies that are targeted to strengthen food security for poor and small-holding producers. An adequate agricultural ethics for biofuels will require commitment by both private and public sector biofuel developers to ensure that potentially positive attributes of biofuel development are realized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Water Use and Water-Use Efficiency of Three Perennial Bioenergy Grass Crops in Florida
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 325-338; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040325
Received: 31 July 2012 / Revised: 26 September 2012 / Accepted: 29 September 2012 / Published: 19 October 2012
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (269 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Over two-thirds of human water withdrawals are estimated to be used for agricultural production, which is expected to increase as demand for renewable liquid fuels from agricultural crops intensifies. Despite the potential implications of bioenergy crop production on water resources, few data [...] Read more.
Over two-thirds of human water withdrawals are estimated to be used for agricultural production, which is expected to increase as demand for renewable liquid fuels from agricultural crops intensifies. Despite the potential implications of bioenergy crop production on water resources, few data are available on water use of perennial bioenergy grass crops. Therefore, the objective of this study was to compare dry matter yield, water use, and water-use efficiency (WUE) of elephantgrass, energycane, and giant reed, grown under field conditions for two growing seasons in North Central Florida. Using scaled sap flow sensor data, water use ranged from about 850 to 1150 mm during the growing season, and was generally greater for giant reed and less for elephantgrass. Despite similar or greater water use by giant reed, dry biomass yields of 35 to 40 Mg ha−1 were significantly greater for energycane and elephantgrass, resulting in greater WUE. Overall, water use by the bioenergy crops was greater than the rainfall received during the study, indicating that irrigation will be needed in the region to achieve optimal yields. Species differ in water use and WUE and species selection can play an important role with regard to potential consequences for water resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Pollen Sterility—A Promising Approach to Gene Confinement and Breeding for Genetically Modified Bioenergy Crops
Agriculture 2012, 2(4), 295-315; doi:10.3390/agriculture2040295
Received: 1 August 2012 / Revised: 10 September 2012 / Accepted: 18 September 2012 / Published: 16 October 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2837 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Advanced genetic and biotechnology tools will be required to realize the full potential of food and bioenergy crops. Given current regulatory concerns, many transgenic traits might never be deregulated for commercial release without a robust gene confinement strategy in place. The potential [...] Read more.
Advanced genetic and biotechnology tools will be required to realize the full potential of food and bioenergy crops. Given current regulatory concerns, many transgenic traits might never be deregulated for commercial release without a robust gene confinement strategy in place. The potential for transgene flow from genetically modified (GM) crops is widely known. Pollen-mediated transfer is a major component of gene flow in flowering plants and therefore a potential avenue for the escape of transgenes from GM crops. One approach for preventing and/or mitigating transgene flow is the production of trait linked pollen sterility. To evaluate the feasibility of generating pollen sterility lines for gene confinement and breeding purposes we tested the utility of a promoter (Zm13Pro) from a maize pollen-specific gene (Zm13) for driving expression of the reporter gene GUS and the cytotoxic gene barnase in transgenic rice (Oryza sativa ssp. Japonica cv. Nipponbare) as a monocot proxy for bioenergy grasses. This study demonstrates that the Zm13 promoter can drive pollen-specific expression in stably transformed rice and may be useful for gametophytic transgene confinement and breeding strategies by pollen sterility in food and bioenergy crops. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Biofuel and Food-Commodity Prices
Agriculture 2012, 2(3), 272-281; doi:10.3390/agriculture2030272
Received: 4 August 2012 / Revised: 10 September 2012 / Accepted: 18 September 2012 / Published: 24 September 2012
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (181 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The paper summarizes key findings of alternative lines of research on the relationship between food and fuel markets, and identifies gaps between two bodies of literature: one that investigates the relationship between food and fuel prices, and another that investigates the impact [...] Read more.
The paper summarizes key findings of alternative lines of research on the relationship between food and fuel markets, and identifies gaps between two bodies of literature: one that investigates the relationship between food and fuel prices, and another that investigates the impact of the introduction of biofuels on commodity-food prices. The former body of literature suggests that biofuel prices do not affect food-commodity prices, but the latter suggests it does. We try to explain this gap, and then show that although biofuel was an important contributor to the recent food-price inflation of 2001–2008, its effect on food-commodity prices declined after the recession of 2008/09. We also show that the introduction of cross-price elasticity is important when explaining soybean price, but less so when explaining corn prices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)
Open AccessArticle Effects of Demographics and Attitudes on Willingness-to-Pay for Fuel Import Reductions through Ethanol Purchases
Agriculture 2012, 2(3), 165-181; doi:10.3390/agriculture2030165
Received: 22 May 2012 / Revised: 4 July 2012 / Accepted: 6 July 2012 / Published: 10 July 2012
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (297 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
One potential means to ameliorate consumer concerns over energy security is to increase the domestic production of alternative fuels. However, in the United States, the public’s attitude toward ethanol, one of the most readily available alternative fuels, has been somewhat ambiguous. This [...] Read more.
One potential means to ameliorate consumer concerns over energy security is to increase the domestic production of alternative fuels. However, in the United States, the public’s attitude toward ethanol, one of the most readily available alternative fuels, has been somewhat ambiguous. This study examines consumer attitudes related to energy security and how import levels influence preferences for ethanol blends using an online survey of fuel consumers across the United States. The results suggest that while consumers generally favor both environmental protection and energy security, they are less clear about how to pursue these goals, with no clear majority agreeing with additional drilling or potential effect of corn ethanol production on food prices. The results do suggest that consumers are willing to pay a premium for fuel blends that contain a lower percentage of imported fuel and that the amount of this premium is influenced by both consumer demographics and views on energy security and environmental issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)

Review

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Open AccessReview Biofuel-Food Market Interactions: A Review of Modeling Approaches and Findings
Agriculture 2013, 3(1), 53-71; doi:10.3390/agriculture3010053
Received: 4 November 2012 / Revised: 19 January 2013 / Accepted: 22 January 2013 / Published: 4 February 2013
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (448 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biofuels, Food Security, and Accompanying Environmental Concerns)

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