This study examines the impact of biofuel production on the enjoyment of the human right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger. It follows from internationally recognised human rights that States have a core obligation to ensure freedom from hunger for all, and that any decisions which may negatively affect the enjoyment of the right to food should be reviewed. This has also been reiterated by the UN Human Rights Council in its resolution adopted on 22 May 2008 as the result of its special session on the food crisis from a human rights perspective. This paper therefore explores whether and to what extent biofuel production has undermined or is likely in the future to undermine or weaken the access to food for vulnerable people, and whether there are any overriding ethical concerns that can justify biofuel production even if it harms access to necessary and sufficient food to avoid hunger.
The conclusions are that the liquid biofuel production has indeed contributed and is in the near future likely to continue to weaken the access to adequate food or to the resources by which vulnerable people can feed themselves, in at least three ways: Firstly, by contributing significantly to the increase in food prices. The study recognises that there are several other factors which jointly with biofuel production have caused the steep increase in food prices. Secondly, by causing land concentration for plantation-type production, due to considerations of economy of scale, which have led and are likely to continue to cause evictions or marginalisation of vulnerable groups and individuals. Many women in the developing countries, particularly in Africa, are likely to be particularly severely affected, should extensive biofuel production spread to their part of the world . Indigenous peoples and other groups with insecure title to the land on which they make their living have also been harmed and are likely to be so in the future. Third, biofuel production causes a number of environmental problems, reduces biodiversity, and lead to competition for water.
In light of this, the question is whether there are sufficient ethical justifications for biofuel production to override the negative consequences. The conclusions are (1) that the most widely used justification, that replacing fossil fuel (gasoline, diesel) by biofuel can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby reduce global warming, is mostly not tenable. Most liquid biofuel production, distribution and use leads to as much and sometimes more greenhouse gas emissions than the use of fossil fuel, when both the direct and indirect consequences are taken into account, including the unavoidable land shifts that will be required by any expansion of such production; and (2) that biofuel production cannot in any significant degree improve the energy security of developed countries – to do so would require so vast allocation of land that it would be impossible for a multitude of reasons. It recognizes that the use of liquid biofuel reduces urban pollution to some extent, but not much since blending will still be necessary for a long time to come, and there are other ways to reduce pollution which have less negative consequences.
This study does not enter into discussion of the so-called ‘second-generation' biofuel, which is still only a speculative possibility that may in the future turn out not to become economically feasible. The paper then turns to the question whether there can be ways in which liquid biofuel production can be made compatible with full respect for the right to adequate food for all, and particularly with the right of everyone to be free from hunger. This would require that the decisions and implementations of policies and projects for biofuel production conform to the internationally adopted standards and guidelines for the realisation of the right to food. The study therefore examines the process requirements and the substantive obligations of States at the national and the international level and ends with a set of recommendations for the adoption of guidelines on biofuel production based on the primary concern to ensure freedom from hunger and the right to adequate food for all.

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