by András Nábrádi & József Popp
Limited land is available globally to grow crops for food and fuel. There are direct and indirect pressures on forests and other lands to be converted from growing food for feedstock to be used for biofuel production. The balance of evidence indicates there will probably be sufficient appropriate land available to meet demands for both food and fuel, but this needs to be confirmed before global supply of biofuel is allowed to increase significantly. There is a future for a sustainable biofuels industry, but feedstock production must avoid encroaching on agricultural land that would otherwise be used for food production. And while advanced technologies offer significant potential for higher greenhouse gas (GHG) savings through biofuels, these will be offset if feedstock production uses existing agricultural land and prevents land-use change. GHG savings can be achieved by using feedstock grown mainly on marginal land or that does not use land, such as wastes and residues. To ensure that biofuels deliver net GHG benefits, governments should amend, but not abandon, their biofuel policies in recognition of the dangers from indirect effects of land-use changes. Large areas of uncertainty remain in the overall impacts and benefits of biofuels. International action is needed in order to improve data, models and controls, and to understand and to manage effects.