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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Biofuel policy must evaluate environmental, food security and energy goals to maximize net benefits


The biofuel industry has received billions of dollars in support from governments around the world, as political leaders respond to new environmental and energy-security imperatives. However, a growing body of research highlights nontrivial costs associated with biofuel production, including environmental destruction and diminished food security, and questions the magnitude of perceived benefits. We discuss the ability of biofuels to accomplish climate change, rural development and energy-security objectives, and consider possible impacts on food production and environmental conservation. We also review methods for judging biofuels, consider how well they contribute to policy objectives, and compare policies that support biofuels.

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