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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Model estimates food-versus-biofuel trade-off


Biofuels have been criticized for raising food prices and reducing food production. While biofuels have rightly been blamed for contributing to reduced food security at a time of record-high food prices in 2008, they have not been credited with reducing the cost of gasoline, also at a time of record-high prices. We discuss the food-versus-biofuel trade-off associated with biofuel production and model the effects of biofuel production in markets for key crops and gasoline, showing that food consumers lose from biofuels but gasoline consumers enjoy substantial benefits. We also suggest ways to address the food-versus-biofuel debate.

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