Producing crops for biofuel releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than is saved by using the alternative energy, according to the findings of two surprising new studies. Converting US farmland from producing food to ethanol necessitates food production elsewhere, vastly increasing greenhouse gas emissions as forests and grasslands are destroyed to make fields. The findings prompted 10 scientists to write to President Bush and lawmakers, urging new policy "that ensures biofuels are not produced on productive" forests, grassland or cropland.
“It’s a little frightening to think that something this well-intentioned might be very damaging,” said an author of one of the studies, which were both published in Science. "We're rushing into biofuels, and we need to be very careful." One of the studies found that a US cornfield that produces ethanol would achieve a net reduction in emissions only after 167 years.