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U.N. Report Warns that Biofuels Pose Environmental Risks

May 14, 2007

NEW YORK --- A new United Nations study concludes that biofuels like ethanol can help curb global warming and create jobs for the poor, but these benefits may be outweighed by environmental problems and higher food prices. This is the U.N.'s first report on bioenergy. The report was released just days after a climate conference in Bangkok that concluded the world has enough money and technology to stabilize global warming. The U.N.-Energy, a consortium of 20 U.N. agencies and programs, released the bioenergy report. According to the Associated Press, the report asserts that bioenergy represents an "extraordinary opportunity" to reduce greenhouse gas emissions" However, the report warns, "rapid growth in liquid biofuel production will make substantial demands on the world's land and water resources at a time when demand for both food and forest products is also rising rapidly."The report further adds that "use of large-scale monocropping could lead to significant biodiversity loss, soil erosion and nutrient leaching." As an example, the report cited the clearing of tropical forests in Southeast Asia, spurred by rising demand for palm oil.
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