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Another Approach

A report from the World Resources Institute says that Western countries' pursuit of biofuels may not be the best approach, the New York Times reports.

"I would say that many of the claims for biofuels have been dramatically exaggerated," Andrew Steer, the president of the nonpartisan environmental organization, tells the Times.

Biofuels, the report says, are an inefficient way to convert sunlight to fuel and require large tracts of land — a need that comes head to head with the increased demand for food. Further, burning the fuel still produces carbon dioxide.

"It's true that our first-generation biofuels have not lived up to their promise," says the University of Minnesota's Jason Hill, who was not involved in drawing up the report. "We've found they do not offer the environmental benefits they were purported to have, and they have a substantial negative impact on the food system."

But, Hill adds that newer biofuels from biofuel-specific crops may do better.