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Agriculture, while one of the oldest industries, has had a high rate of technological change during much of the twentieth century. Every few decades a new sector is added to agriculture and affects the rest of the agricultural sector, primarily by adding a competing demand for land and affecting the prices of crops. The biofuel sector was introduced within the past 30 years and expanded during the first two decades of the twenty-first century. It is a major part of the bioeconomy, which can be broadly defined as “one based on the use of research and innovation in the biological sciences to create economic activity and public benefit,” as described by the US White House, National Bioeconomy Blueprint (2012). With the advance of modern molecular biology, the bioeconomy has expanded from the production of food and fiber to also include fine chemicals and energy, and is likely to grow further. This handbook overviews and analyzes some of the major aspects of the biofuel sector. It also provides a framework to analyze and address other sectors of the bioeconomy and the economics and policy associated with new industries in general.
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