Biofuels: ethical issues


Published 12/04/2011

Report cover
Exhaust emmissions
Plant science

Biotechnologies such as advanced breeding strategies and genetic modification could help to produce higher-yielding biofuels crops that better meet our ethical principles.

Using these technologies may lead to the development of biofuels that offer greater greenhouse gas emissions savings, without significant land use change or other harms to the environment.

However, there is a big discrepancy between the targets and penalties that are in place for current biofuels, and the very few incentives for new methods of developing biofuels. Producers keen to avoid penalties for not reaching their targets may prefer established biofuels over newer ones that need further development and investment.

We conclude

Policy-makers should incentivise research and development of new biofuels technologies that need less land and other resources, avoid social and environmental harms, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.