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The state of food and agriculture 2008 — Biofuels: prospects, risks and opportunities

This report, published by the Food and Agriculture Organization, outlines the current state of the biofuels debate and examines the policies being implemented to support biofuels and those needed to address issues affecting the environment, food security and the poor.

The report begins with a technical overview of the types of biofuels available and then focuses on the economic and policy drivers of liquid biofuels and the short- and long-term prospects of biofuel markets. The environmental impacts of biofuels, together with the impacts on poverty and food security are examined and the policy challenges discussed, including proposals for a better policy framework.

The report suggests that rapid increases in demand for biofuel feedstocks pose an immediate threat to the food security of the urban and rural poor. But it also implies that in the long term, more demand for agricultural commodities may present opportunities for agricultural and rural development. The impact of biofuels on greenhouse gas emissions is found to vary according to location and agricultural practices, and the authors call for more harmonised approaches to assessing the impact of biofuel production on climate change.

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