The search for more environmentally friendly fuel alternatives is in full effect, and while a few promising candidates have been found, the full results are not yet in. Biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are the leaders among the new crop of ‘green’ fuels, but people are beginning to realize that they are not all they are cracked up to be. In fact, the attention being given to biofuels may be detracting from other, less expensive yet more effective ways to reduce transportation-sourced CO2 emissions. Several British Members of Parliament (MPs) have come to this realization, and are asking the European Union to abandon its target of 10% biofuel use by 2020.

Some of the problems outlined in the study presented to the EU Environmental Audit Committee include disruption of food chains and mass deforestation. The EU’s new climate change strategy, launched this week, seeks to get 10% of cars running on biofuels by 2020. The goal is designed to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and hopefully slow the human contribution to climate change. Part of the EU plan also determines where and how the source materials for the biofuels will be grown, which was done to defuse some of the concern that crops will be grown in an environmentally irresponsible manner, reports Autocar.

Similar studies have been cropping up in the United States, showing that increased fertilizer use in the growth of corn for ethanol production is inadvertently causing a massive dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico to grow. Likewise, the shift from soybean production to corn production has increased the global price of soy, encouraging slash-and-burn growing in rainforest areas to capitalize on the increased profitability of the soy market. Where all of this biofuel activity will end up, and whether the net effect will be positive or negative for the environment, is apparently still up in the air – although things certainly aren’t looking as rosy as they did just a few years ago.