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Don't Rush to Judgment

In 1953 Linus Pauling and Robert Corey published their structure of DNA, 3 strands twisted around each other. Shortly after that James Watson and Francis Crick published the correct structure of DNA, the one on which the biotechnology industry is built.That is the way science goes. Scientists make discoveries, publish their work, and others come along to either support or dispute those discoveries. Imagine if we had just rushed to judgment back then and gone Read More >

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Clouding Assumptions

Science magazine this week published an exchange between Vinod Khosla, the venture capitalist who has invested a great deal in alternative energy, and Timothy Searchinger and coauthor Richard Houghton critiquing and defending the February 2008 study, “Use of U.S. Croplands for Biofuels Increases Greenhouse Gases Through Emissions from Land-Use Change” The exchange reveals some of the nuances of indirect land use change arguments that have not been addressed. Khosla’s comments raise two important issues, allocation Read More >

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EPA Drafting Rules on International Land Use Change

The U.S. EPA is expected to release a proposed rulemaking for implementing the lifecycle analysis requirements for biofuels under the renewable fuels standard. (Check out the EPA’s official blog, even though it contains no posts on this subject.) Estimating the emissions generated through the production of biofuels has been controversial, particularly with respect to how land-use changes affect emissions. E&E TV’s OnPoint recently interviewed Jack Huttner, vice president of Dupont Danisco Cellulosic Ethanol, about the Read More >

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High Food Prices Hurt Consumers and Biofuels Companies

Yesterday, the New York Times wrote: “A United Nations food agency called on Tuesday for a review of biofuel subsidies and policies, noting that they had contributed significantly to rising food prices and the hunger in poor countries. With policies and subsidies to encourage biofuel production in place in much of the developed world, farmers often find it more profitable to plants crops for fuel than for food, a shift that has helped lead to Read More >

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This Week in Science

A group of preeminent academics put forward a policy proposal on regulating the development of cellulosic biofuels in the pages of Science magazine last week. They point out the urgent need to think about the unintended consequences of alternative fuels in order to achieve outcomes that are substantially better than “business as usual.” They conclude: Legislated environmental performance standards for cellulosic ethanol production could, for example, go far towards promoting sustainable outcomes. Such standards could Read More >

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