You can create ethanol from any plant, but the higher content of sugar, the better. Thus, corn, sugar cane, and other starch-filled plants will do.
There may be reason to hesitate to use food sources as fuel sources. Many environmental justice advocates worry that developing nations will be pressured into converting their food crops for fuel sources and end up running into food shortage. The World Bank has been criticized for similar practices in Africa by encouraging nations to convert fields to coffe fields as a cash crop. In some areas, the coffee plants stripped the soil of nutrients and the land is not longer usable for either food or coffee. There is suspicion that similar stories will follow if ethanol derived from food sources becomes a profitable industry.
Algae can be used for both, and is a less common food product (depending on the area…i think it’s consumed fairly regularly in Asia). But actually, when you harvest algae for fuel you can use the byproducts for food and other nutrients.
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