CORVALLIS, Ore. – “Getting Biofuels Right: The Biofuel vs. Food and Environment Dilemma” is the subject of a free public lecture at Oregon State University on Monday, Feb. 25, by G. David Tilman, an ecologist with the University of Minnesota.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the C&E Auditorium at OSU’s LaSells Stewart Center.

Tilman’s presentation is part of a 2007-08 OSU lecture series called “Food for Thought: History, Technology, Gastronomy,” sponsored by the university’s Horning Endowment in the Humanities, in collaboration with the Outreach in Biotechnology Program.

Concerns over rising oil prices and greenhouse gases from fossil fuels have caused biofuels to be touted as a solution to both our energy and climate change dilemmas. Yet available biofuels, Tilman says, offer no real solution. Corn ethanol and soybean biodiesel provide small energy gains, but both directly and indirectly release more greenhouse gas than fossil fuels. Moreover, any food-based biofuels made by converting rain forests, peatlands, savannas, or grasslands release substantially more carbon dioxide than the annual greenhouse gas reductions that these biofuels provide by displacing fossil fuels.

In this lecture, Tilman suggests solutions: Biofuels can be produced from perennials grown on agriculturally degraded lands without displacing food production or causing loss of biodiversity through habitat destruction. Similarly, biofuels made from waste biomass, manure, corn stover, forest slash, or thinnings offer immediate and sustained advantages and net energy gains.

Tilman is the Regents’ Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Ecology at the University of Minnesota, and director of the university’s Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve. His research explores how managed and natural ecosystems can sustainably meet human needs for food, energy, and ecosystem services.

He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. Tilman was founding editor of the journal Ecological Issues. His many awards include the Ecological Society of America’s Cooper Award and its MacArthur Award, the Botanical Society of America’s Centennial Award, and the Princeton Environmental Prize.

He has written or edited five books and published more than 200 papers in peer-reviewed literature, making him the world’s most highly cited environmental scientist for 1990–2000 and for 1996–2006, according to the Institute for Scientific Information.

The Food for Thought lecture series also is supported by the Wait and Lois Rising Lectureship Fund and the OSU history department.

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Elissa Curcio,