Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Bioenergy

27 March 2014

We include this initiative because it addresses the challenges of of ‘closing the food loop’. This innovative solar-thermal toilet was developed by a team led by CU-Boulder Professor Karl Linden to improve sanitation and hygiene in developing countries.

27 February 2014

A recent study from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research finds that the UK is failing to make the most of its abundant biomass potential. The researchers found that almost half, up to 44%, of the UK's energy could be produced within the country by using biomass sources, including household waste, agricultural residues and home-grown biofuels. The UK currently produces about half of the food it consumes, and is ~60% ‘self-sufficient’. Although complete food self-sufficiency is not the current goal, the researchers stress that improved food system adaptive capacity is important if the UK is to cope with future stresses in the food system.

18 February 2014

The Danish Council of Ethics has launched an English version of its report on the ethical challenges associated with bioenergy production. The “Report on bioenergy, food production, and ethics in a globalised world” considers the production of bioenergy in a situation characterized by several major global crises - energy, food, climate and natural resources. Some forms of bioenergy may be a tool in battling the energy crisis and the climate crisis. However, growing energy crops may compete with food production and nature for scarce resources and thereby counter solutions to the equally acute crises concerning food and natural resources. The main focus of the report is thus on the ways bioenergy competes with food production and nature for scarce resources. The Council focuses also on the values that determine the choice of strategy in regard to countering these four challenges and points out that ethical deliberations should be more made more explicit in political decision-making related to major global crises.

28 January 2014

A series of studies aiming at assessing and improving agricultural economic models have been published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and in a Special Issue of the journal Agricultural Economics. These represent the findings of a major international program “The Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement project” (AgMIP) – an effort to produce improved integrated crop, climate and economic models. The AgMIP project links climate, crop, and economic modelling communities with cutting-edge information technology and aggregate crop model outputs as inputs to regional and global economic models. In doing so it is possible to determine regional vulnerabilities, changes in comparative advantage, price effects, and potential adaptation strategies in the agricultural sector.

12 December 2013

The focus of this book is to introduce a non-specialist audience to the role of precision agriculture (PA) in food security, environmental protection, and sustainable use of natural resources, as well as its economic benefits.

13 November 2013

The European Commission has announced funding for three major research projects designed to promote innovation in the meat and livestock sector. The funding will come from EU’s outgoing Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development.

26 September 2013

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is the process of energy production through the production of biogas from agricultural and other organic waste. This book provides a broad introduction to AD and its potential to turn agricultural crops or crop residues, animal and other organic waste, into biomethane.

5 September 2013

Global food availability could be boosted by 70% if croplands were used exclusively to grow food for humans rather than for animal feed and biofuels, according to a new paper by the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.  By decreasing the land used for animal feed and biofuels an additional 4 billion people could be fed. 

21 May 2013

Due to Nepal’s large energy deficit where supply shortfalls and interrupted power affect both household and the national industry, the country is now looking for energy alternatives such as using its growing urban and industrial waste.

22 April 2013

Europe is reforming its biofuels policy due to concerns raised about its impact on global land use change patterns and global food markets. The negative environmental impacts of the biofuels policy have been well demonstrated, but what is less clear are the economic implications.

25 February 2013

A paper published in Nature Climate Change suggests that planting trees for use as a biofuel source, near populated areas, is likely to increase human deaths due to inhalation of ozone. Increased levels of isoprene emitted from such trees, when interacting with other air pollutants can lead to increased levels of ozone in the air which might also lead to lower crop yields.

25 February 2013

This paper has been widely reported – and also misinterpreted.  It has been publicised as a study which suggests that healthier diets (which seems to be conflated with one containing lower levels of meat and dairy) do not necessarily lead to reduced GHG emissions; however, a closer reading of the conclusions reveals otherwise. 

2 November 2012

In our 24th September Newsletter, we mentioned that the EU is considering plans to limit crop-based biofuels to 5% of transport fuel. Biofuels have been promoted in recent years, largely because of the belief that they will help reduce transport’s impact on the environment, and particularly because of its contribution to climate change. But the indirect effects of growing crops to make fuel have seriously challenged these assumptions.  

24 September 2012

This report by the FAO examines the important issue of the relationship between biofuel production and livestock: there can be synergies (ie. the use of biofuel co-products as animal feed) and trade offs (such as biofuel production effects on the price of grains). 

24 September 2012

This modelling study, published in Global Change Biology, finds that if indirect land use change (iLUC) factors are not accounted for when assessing the GHG balance of biofuels, then “the Renewable Energy Directive could be expected to deliver only a 4% carbon saving compared to fossil fuel, with a 30% chance that it would actually cause a net emissions increase.”