Beleaguered by criticisms, and abused by politicians for ecological target-setting, biofuels are in their darkest hour. But their bringing to trial should remind us – yet again – of something else: the highly questionable sustainability of most of modern agriculture. Is this the end of biofuels? Probably not, but it is certainly the end of a cheap solution to the problem of sustainable portable fuels. Part one of this two-part article focuses on the political and agricultural dimensions of the topic.