Providing numbers for a food versus fuel debate: An analysis of a future biofuel production scenario

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This study provides a quantitative estimate of grain that would be available for biofuel production under different scenarios of dietary requirements in the world in 2050 based on the projected information available in 2007 on population, productivity increase, dietary requirements, and land use types. Our major findings are as follows: (1) if dietary requirements do not increase by more than 20% from the current level, crop yields from current cropland must increase by more than 57% just to meet dietary demand; (2) the restriction of pastureland for milk and meat production purposes would imply insufficient food production for a moderate diet consumption scenario in 2050; (3) If food demand increases by 20% of the current consumption level, a 60% increase in crop yield and a 16% conversion of pasturelands would meet grain demand and leave surplus grain to supply 23% of liquid fuel demand. We also highlight the potential roles played by biotechnology, research and development fundings, irrigation, and cropping intensity to boost crop production and ultimately make more land available for biofuel production if such an option continues to be considered in future. © The Author(s) 2012. Published by Oxford University Press, on behalf of Agricultural and Applied Economics Association. All rights reserved.

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Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy

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