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The Browning of Biofuels: The Political Economy of Policy Failure

Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2010

Biofuels were hailed in the first half of the last decade as a green solution to reliance on imported petroleum, and a savior to farmers seeking higher prices for commodities in surplus. But in the second half of the decade, biofuels emerged as real and imminent threats to both environmental quality and food security, while being a costly and ill-conceived response to energy concerns. Agriculture and energy ministers met at a high-level conference at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome in June 2008, and essentially glossed over these issues in endorsing continued government subsidies to the biofuels question. It is past time to take stock of the escalating subsidies to biofuels, related to three issues: impacts on the global environment, threats posed to food security in poor nations and its high-cost path to energy security.

Growth and Development of the Biofuels Sector ...

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