Two new studies published this week in the journal Science seem to reinforce an earlier study
and go further in questioning the benefits of biofuel use as a means of addressing greenhouse gas effects in the atmosphere. The previous paper by Dr. William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute indicated that Amazon deforestation was being aggravated by the increased growing of corn for use in ethanol production in the US. The new studies also address the issue of land-use and factor it into the total life-cycle carbon effects of growing crops for fuel. Forests and perennial grasslands are able to absorb far more atmospheric carbon and than any crops that are being grown in their place. As a result even though carbon is absorbed and then released with the growing/fuel use cycle, the net effect may actually be far more negative than previously thought. Apparently the best crop currently being used for fuel is sugarcane because of the minimal amount of energy needed to grow it.
[Source: New York Times, thanks to Domenick for the tip]