Converting agriculture to produce energy as well as food has become an important and well-funded global research goal as petroleum reserves fall and fuel prices rise. But the use of crop biomass-both grain and other plant parts-as a raw material for bioenergy production may compete with food and feed supplies and remove valuable plant residues that help sustain soil productivity and structure and avoid erosion. Agricultural research can mitigate these trade-offs by enhancing the biomass traits of dual-purpose food crops, developing new biomass crops for marginal lands where there is less competition with food crops, and developing sustainable livestock management systems that are less dependent on biomass residuals for feeds… The breeding of new cultivars for the biofuel market may open the opportunity for a whole new paradigm in public-private partnerships. Public research may focus on tapping potential plant genetic resources and initial trait genetic enhancement that will feed into either public or private breeding programs worldwide. International public organizations, such as the CGIAR, may serve as conduits of new knowledge and technology to small-scale farmers, particularly in resource-poor farming areas of the developing world.
bioenergy and agriculture -- promises and challenges
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)