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The Economics of Food: How Feeding and Fueling the Planet Affects Food Prices by Patrick Westhoff

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Chapter 1. Biofuel Boom

The mere mention of biofuels can provoke strong responses from people on both sides of the debate. Supporters see biofuels as a great way to reduce reliance on imported petroleum and to promote rural development. Some opponents claim biofuel production is a “crime against humanity” that takes food from the poor.1

Biofuel opponents call this the “food versus fuel” debate and argue that the world’s corn, sugar, and vegetable oil should be used to feed people rather than fuel vehicles. Biofuel supporters argue that the world’s farmers are perfectly capable of producing both food and fuel. The two sides argue about the environmental benefits and costs of biofuels and about the net effect of biofuels on the world’s use of ...

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