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Diaeta  2009 

Biocombustibles y Seguridad Alimentaria

Keywords: biofuels, food security, competition for the soil, energy crops.

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Abstract:

the basic task of delimiting the concept of "biofuel" carries some problems in itself. we can refer to it as a generic notion including any organic substance used by man as a source of energy (e.g. firewood) and/or refer to the phenomenon as it is developing under the current circumstances, making reference to the outcome of complex systems of biomass transformation (e.g. bioethanol, biodiesel). the debate about biofuels has been occupying a considerable space for quite a long time on the media (newspapers, magazines, tv), but the information is given in a very disorderly way, mostly as the expression of parties in disagreement. on the one hand, there are people who seem to express only the benefits of the model, making reference to countries such as argentina (due to its characteristics) as privileged performers of this new initiative. on the other hand, there are those who warn about a renewed expansionist effort of developed countries in their search for taking possession of natural resources. the task of taking a vision beyond superficial assumptions, aimed at providing clear evidence of the current stage, cannot be ignored. the mere suspicion of a competition for territory to harvest crops intended to energy production, versus the pursuit to use that territory to obtain food, deserves a very careful examination. the present paper tries to explore the main aspects of the biofuel phenomenon, its production ways, and their connection with food supply safety, starting from the description of four interrelated dimensions: food availability, access to food, stability in the use of natural resources and biological utilization of food and nutrients. the "food vs. energy" dilemma will go on until a solid research platform analyzing all the factors related to this subject is available. it is essential to sponsor interdisciplinary studies, and governments are, for sure, the main players.

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