Biofuels and Agriculture

  • Luc Nijs


Biofuels date back to the late 19th century, when ethanol was derived from corn and Rudolf Diesel’s first engine ran on peanut oil. Until the 1940s, biofuels were seen as viable transport fuels, but falling fossil-fuel prices stopped their further development. Interest in commercial production of biofuels for transport rose again in the mid-1970s, when ethanol began to be produced from sugarcane in Brazil and since the 1980s from corn in the United States. During the 1990s, the industrialized economies of North America and Europe actively pursued policies in support of domestic biofuel industries to achieve energy security, develop a substitute for fossil fuels, and support rural economies. More countries have since launched biofuel programs, and over 50 countries have adopted blending targets or mandates and several more have announced biofuel quotas for future years.1


Anaerobic Digestion Sweet Sorghum Wood Pellet Cotton Stalk Liquid Biofuel 
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  1. 6.
    See R. Miao (2013), “Impact of ethanol plants on local land use change”, Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 42(2): 291–309 (retrieved: Scholar
  2. 14.
    D. Rajagopal and D. Zilberman (2007), “Review of environmental, economic and policy aspects of biofuels”, World Bank Policy Research Working Paper 4341, World Bank, Washington, DC.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. R. Naylor, A. J. Liska, M. B. Burke, W. P. Falcon, J. C. Gaskell, S. D. Rozelle, and K. G. Cassman (2007), “The ripple effect: Biofuels, food security, and the environment”, Environment 49(9): 31–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Luc Nijs 2014

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  • Luc Nijs

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