Category Archives: Biofuels & Climate Change

Do Biofuels Always Bring Rainforest Destruction?

The debate over “carbon debt” created by changes in land use has recently expanded to include the issue of competition between food and fuel and its effect on developing countries. David Tilman of the University of Minnesota, one of the lead authors of the “Land Clearing and the Biofuel Carbon Debt” article in Science, recently held an interview with Newsweek magazine in which he says, In order to grow biofuels, farmers have gone to fertile Read More >

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Linking Biotechnology, Chemistry & Agriculture for a better future

Interested in alternative energy sources? BIO’s World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, on April 27-30 in Chicago, IL, is the forum where experts from around the globe come together to discuss this topic, with major themes around sustainability and climate change.  But let’s not stop there. If industrial and environmental biotechnology is your business — this is a meeting you must attend.  We’ll have sessions about: synthetic biology and directed evolution, sustainable biofuels, bioplastics, and Read More >

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Trying to Define the Indirect Land Use Issue

Michigan State University Professor of Chemical Engineering Bruce Dale recently sent a letter to colleagues interpreting the analyses by Searchinger et al. and Fargione et al. in Science. In the letter, Dale says, “The Searchinger and Fargione argument at its root is this: corn (and perhaps cellulosic) ethanol is not sustainable because it will divert land use for animal feed (over 70% of corn is fed to animals) to new lands that will release large Read More >

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Meet the Press (Or at least their editorial boards)

Recently two editorials were written by the NY Times and Washington Post concerning biofuels in which the recent Science papers were referred to. According to the NY Times, “The studies’ authors say that some ethanol sources wood wastes, or grasses planted on previously degraded land — could yield net benefits in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Still, they are one more reminder that regulators will have to design the tightest possible standards for ethanol production. Read More >

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Tilman clarifies study

Much of the media coverage of the recent Science Magazine studies made it clear that many hadn’t actually read the studies before they reported on them. Some interpreted the studies as condemning corn ethanol production now, not as the worst case scenario of what could happen in the future. University of Minnesota professor David Tilman, an author of one study, clarified it today in an interview with Minnesota Daily: Tilman, who is currently on sabbatical Read More >

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