Growing reliance on food-based biofuels has created considerable controversy about their impact on food prices and the environment and led to scepticism about their sustainability. This review describes the concept of sustainability in the context of biofuels and then discusses the factors affecting the economic viability of current and next-generation biofuels and their environmental and social sustainability. Cellulosic biofuels from dedicated energy crops offer considerable promise for reducing the competition for land and avoiding many of the negative environmental impacts associated with corn-ethanol. But the production of any type of biofuel is likely to involve trade-offs among the multi-dimensional aspects of sustainability. Technological innovation and policy incentives are needed to develop more sustainable biofuels and to guide the mix of feedstocks, their methods and locations of production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalCAB Reviews: Perspectives in Agriculture, Veterinary Science, Nutrition and Natural Resources
StatePublished - 2009


  • Biodiversity
  • Cellulosic
  • Food production
  • Greenhouse gas emissions
  • Perennial grasses
  • Policy incentives
  • Soil and water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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