The battle for biomass: A systematic review of food-feed-fuel competition
This article (PDF) in the Global Food Security journal reviews 75 studies on the competition for biomass and production resources such as land, water, labour and capital across food, feed and fuel production. This review finds that food, feed and fuel do not just compete for limited land but also compete for other resources such as water, labour and capital. The key influencing factors that affect the amount of biomass available for food, feed, fuel purposes related to bioenergy demand, crop yields, amount of human-edible feed fed to livestock, amount of animal source-food in human diets and food supply chain efficiency. Many of these factors resulted in trade-offs across different uses of biomass. Availability of biomass was also particularly affected by which feedstocks policy encouraged to be used for bioenergy and which land-use policies were put in place to discourage food-fuel competition. Studies had different perspectives (e.g. economic, biophysical) on setting priorities for biomass and suggested different solutions to address competition (e.g. marginal lands). These different priorities resulted in contrasting or piecemeal solutions to solve competition for biomass, land and other resources, such as using by-products of the agro-food industry for livestock feed or bioenergy. We set a framework with three principles for the circular use of biomass, using a systems approach and the findings from our review, to help overcome this. By setting priorities directing biomass and the resources needed for its production towards food first, a number of trade-offs across food-feed-fuel uses of biomass can be addressed.