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.
Renewable Fuel Association. Renewable Fuel Association. Industry Statistics—Monthly Fuel Ethanol Production/Demand. Available online: http://ethanolrfa.org/pages/monthly-fuel-ethanol-production-demand (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Trostle, R. Global Agricultural Supply and Demand: Factors Contributing to the Recent Increase in Food Commodity Prices; Technical Report for the Economic Research Service United States Department of Agriculture: Washington, DC, USA, 2008.
Runge, C.; Senauer, B. How Ethanol Fuels the Food Crisis. Available online: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/64909/c-ford-runge-and-benjamin-senauer/how-ethanol-fuels-the-food-crisis#,2008 (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Rosegrant, M. Biofuels and Grain Prices—Impacts and Policy Responses; Technical Report for International Food Policy Research Institute. 2008. Available online: http://www.ifpri.org/sites/default/files/publications/rosegrant20080507.pdf (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Trostle, R.; Marti, D.; Rosen, S.; Westcott, P. Why Have Food Commodity Prices Risen Again?; Technical Report for the Economic Research Service United States Department of Agriculture: Washington, DC, USA, 2011.
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. Soaring Food Prices: Facts, Perspectives, Impacts and Actions Required; Technical Report HLC/08/INF/1 for the High-level Conference on World Food Security “The Challenges of Climate change and Bioenergy”; FAO: Rome, Italy, 2008.
Babcock, B.A. The Impact of US Biofuel Policies on Agricultural Price Levels and Volatility; International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD): Geneva, Switzerland, 2011. Available online: http://www.iadb.org/intal/intalcdi/PE/2011/08442.pdf (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Oladosu, G.; Kline, K.; Uria-Martinez, R.; Eaton, L. Sources of corn for ethanol production in the United States: A decomposition analysis of the empirical data. Biofuels Bioprod. Biorefining 2011, 5, 640–653.
United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). US drought 2012: Farm and food impact. 2012. Available online: http://www.ers.usda.gov/newsroom/us-drought-2012-farm-and-food-impacts.aspx (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Babcock, B. Updated Assessment of the Drought’s Impacts on Crop Prices and Biofuel Production; Technical Report 12-PB 8. Available online: http://www.card.iastate.edu/policy_briefs/display.aspx?id=1169 (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Tyner, W.E.; Taheripour, F.; Hurt, C. Potential Impacts of a Partial Waiver of the Ethanol Blending Rules; Technical Report for Purdue University: West Lafayette, IN, USA, 2012. Available online: http://www.farmfoundation.org/news/articlefiles/1841-Purdue%20paper%20 final.pdf (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Wisner, R. Implications for Ethanol and Other Corn Users of the Shrinking Corn Crop. Agricultural Marketing Resource Center Web site. 2012. Available online: http://www.agmrc.org/renewable_energy/ethanol/implications-for-ethanol-and-other-corn-users-of-the-shrinking-corn-crop/ (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Cooper, G. The 2012 Corn Crop: Implications for Ethanol and the RFS; Technical Report for Renewable Fuel Association: Washington, DC, USA, 2012. Available online: http://www. adkinsenergy.com/pdfs/Renewable%20Fuels%20Association%20drought_RFS%20webinar.pdf (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Tirado, M.C.; Cohen, M.J.; Aberman, N.; Meerman, J.; Thompson, B. Addressing the challenges of climate change and biofuel production for food and nutrition security. Food Res. Int. 2010, 43, 1729–1744.
Rathmann, R.; Szklo, A.; Schaeffer, R. Land use competition for production of food and liquid biofuels: An analysis of the arguments in the current debate. Renew. Energy 2010, 35, 14–22, doi:10.1016/j.renene.2009.02.025.
Hochman, G.; Rajagopal, D.; Timilsina, G.; Zilberman, D. The Role of Inventory Adjustments in Quantifying Factors Causing Food Price Inflation; Technical Report WPS5744 for World Bank: Washington, DC, USA, 2011. Available online: http://elibrary.worldbank.org/content/ workingpaper/10.1596/1813-9450-5744 (accessed on 18 December 2012).
Al-Riffai, P.; Dimaranan, B.; Laborde, D. Global Trade and Environmental Impact Study of the EU Biofuels Mandate; Technical Report by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) for the Directorate General on Trade of the European Commission: Brussels, Belgium, 2010.
Oladosu, G.; Kline, K.; Leiby, P.; Uria-Martinez, R.; Davis, M.; Downing, M.; Eaton, L. Global economic effects of USA biofuel policy and the potential contribution from advanced biofuels. Future Sci. Biofuels 2012, 3, 703–723.
Mosnier, A.; Havlik, P.; Valin, H.; Baker, J.S.; Murray, B.C.; Feng, S.; Obersteiner, M.; McCarl, B.A.; Rose, S.K.; Schneider, U.A. The Net Global Effects of Alternative US Biofuel Mandates; Nicholas Institute Technical Report for Duke University: Durham, NC, USA, 2012.
Von Braun, J.; Tadesse, G. Global Food Price Volatility and Spikes: An Overview of Costs,Causes and Solutions; Technical Report No. 161 for Zentrum für Entwicklungsforschung (ZEF): Bonn, Germany, 2012.