To produce, trade on or use agricultural products as fuel—a practice as old as human history—has become a policy riddle spawning emotional debate and multiple, sometimes competing and conflicting, measures and actions. Today, many see fuel derivatives from agricultural produce and forests as a new frontier in energy supply. In a context of action against climate change, the carbon emissions efficiency of some energy crops has emerged as a promising, powerful alternative to the use of fossil fuels. Against a backdrop of energy scarcity, particularly in cash-dry economies, excitement on the prospect of producing cheap fuels from un-edible crops at large scale seems unarguable. Especially if crops are grown on marginal lands, if new policies both at home and abroad are generating fresh capital and investment flows, and if, on top, energy resulting may match otherwise unattended demand and neglected populations.

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