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Fuelling controversy

The scale of the global challenges posed by climate change has given rise to an industry developing and selling potential solutions. Attention has turned to alternative forms of energy that reduce carbon emissions, such as biofuels produced from crops.

New partnerships between oil and agribusiness companies are being supported by many governments. But, as this briefing for journalists shows, the extent to which biofuels can play a beneficial role in replacing fossil fuels is hotly debated.

Biofuel production is itself energy-intensive, and plantations – such as those in Malawi and Brazil – can displace food crops, or even destroy natural rainforest. There are also major concerns over genetic engineering – used in many stages of the production process.

Nevertheless, there is increasing momentum behind the biofuel industry, which could see it becoming a major global transport fuel within the next ten years.

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