Table of Contents
ISRN Renewable Energy
Volume 2012, Article ID 954180, 15 pages
Review Article

Food versus Fuel: Toward a New Paradigm—The Need for a Holistic Approach

Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, South Kensington Campus, London SW7 1NA, UK

Received 15 October 2012; Accepted 8 November 2012

Academic Editors: B. Limmeechokchai and A. Stoppato

Copyright © 2012 Frank Rosillo-Calle. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A key objective of this paper is to provide an assessment of the current and future situation on the “food versus fuel” debate and to contribute to possible alternatives to minimise or avoid future conflict. The debate has centred on three main areas: (i) food versus biofuel production, (ii) their positive and negative effects (i.e., GHG, climate change, and the broader environment), and (iii) a socioeconomic impact. The debate has been controversial because it has largely been driven by politics, ethical/moral considerations, and vested interests rather than by science. The paper focuses on food prices, land competition, GHG, energy balance, and energy subsidies and concerns with the rapid expansion of bioenergy for electricity and heat, climatic changes, the role of agriculture as a key factor, the potential of biomass energy resources, and the various alternatives to minimize or avoid conflict between food and fuel production. Biomass for energy is both “part of the problem and part of the solution.” It proposes a holistic approach: a new paradigm that takes full account of the diverse and complex nature of biomass energy sources and states that the fundamental underlying causes are social injustice, inequality, waste, and so forth, rather than land competition for food and fuel.