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Simulating land use and agriculture expansion in Brazil: food, energy, agro-industrial and environmental impacts


Brazilian agro-industrial output has experienced a cycle of strong expansion. The awareness that the era of cheap oil has reached an end and the growing energy concerns made the search for viable alternatives to hydrocarbon-based fuels into a global priority. The role of biofuels and bioenergy has shifted from a solution for reducing Green House Gases (GHG) emissions to the cause of rising food prices, environmental degradation and even threatening global food security. At the same time, increasing income in developing countries has brought millions of people to increase their levels of food consumption, boosting international demand. National demand for agricultural products has also increased, pushed by biofuels (mainly ethanol) and grains for food and feed production. Within this context, Brazilian agricultural industry has responded to the world's need for food, feed, fiber and biofuels by both improving its yields and expanding cultivated area and investments. To analyze this issues properly, in partnership with FAPRI (Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute), ICONE developed an economic model called Brazilian Land Use Model (BLUM). The present application proposes the use and development of the BLUM for the food versus fuel debate. The BLUM will be sufficiently general to forecast all the main agricultural products in the entire national territory and, at the same time, detailed enough to deal with the (very) different regional characteristics of national territory. With this project, ICONE wants to answer to the following questions: what will be the growth in sugarcane planted area to respond to a growing demand? How will it affect land use change? What will be the main positive and negative environmental impacts? Is there any policy to be implemented by the government or the private sector to improve the rational use of the land? The research on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) methodology is under continuous development. The BLUM has been improved to generate results on land use change instead of only land allocation. However, the need for additional improvements has been identified, which is the aim of this project. (AU)

Articles published in Pesquisa FAPESP Magazine about the research grant:
Bio-refineries of the future 
Biorrefinerías del futuro 
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