I fully agree that biofuels should come from non-food sources where possible.
However, I'd like to point out that blaming biofuels for the current grain shortages is a bit of a stretch. Vast quantities of grain go into feedlot raised animals for meat and milk. This is a hugely wasteful method of food production (and wasteful use of oil too).
Algal farming need not require huge inputs if done properly in a system that is designed to be efficient. While we're at it, algae could also be used as a feed source for cattle (freeing up some of the grain that they are eating).
Land use needs to improve:
* Land that can produce food efficiently (minimal irrigation and other inputs) should primarily produce food.
* Land that cannot prouce food efficiently but can produce grasses, sugar cane etc. could be pressed into biofuel production.
* Hills and marginal land can be grazed.
* Marshy land can produce algae for biofuels and feedlots.
We don't have any real shortages. We just have very inefficient ways of doing things. Subsidies are a huge problem here because they pay farmers to grow inappropriate crops.
Written in June 2008