The rise in global biodiesel production: Implications for food security

Policies that promote biofuels in major agricultural economies raise important questions for food prices and food security at local to global scales. Global biofuel output rose from 38 billion liters to 131 billion liters between 2005 and 2015, boosting the demand for annual- and perennial-crop feedstocks such as maize, sugar, soy, rapeseed, and palm oil. Although ethanol volume was three times that of biodiesel in 2015, the share of biodiesel in total biofuel output rose from 10% to almost 25% over the course of the decade (EIA, n.d.; REN21, 2016). Biodiesel production increased 700% between 2005 and 2015 and is expected to rise by another 35% by 2025 (OECD/FAO, 2014). In this paper, we examine the linkages between biodiesel, oil crop, and energy markets, and ask: What are the food security implications of biodiesel policies in major agricultural economies? How do governments adjust biodiesel policies in response to international commodity prices, trade opportunities, and their changing economic and environmental priorities?