NPR: Biofuels are liquid fuels made from plant material. Because most crops are grown as food, any used for fuel could cause food shortages. A study published yesterday in Nature proposes instead that biofuels be produced on marginal lands that aren’t good enough for food crops. According to calculations by G. Philip Robertson and colleagues, there is enough such land in the US Midwest to supply about 30 biorefineries. Critics point out, however, that in years lacking adequate rainfall and subsequent crop yield, biofuel refineries wouldn’t have enough material to process. Instead, some in the industry have proposed finding ways to use already existing biomass byproducts: sawdust and other wood waste in the Northwest, rice straw or wheat straw in California, corn cobs in the Midwest, and dead citrus trees in Florida. While the US pushes forward to develop its biofuel industry, Europe has been scaling back because of fears over food shortages and potential environmental problems.