Apparently tired of false claims that biodiesel takes from the food supply, biodiesel maker Renewable Energy Group has put out a whitepaper that actually shows how the green fuel is helping the food supply. Biodiesel Magazine has this good summary of “Food THEN Fuel: How the American Biodiesel Industry Is Strengthening Food Security.”
“[C]ritics of biofuels have [tried] to convince the public that biodiesel is merely part of an amorphous group of energy sources that share the same alleged disadvantages,” the paper states. “Indeed, they would have the public believe that biodiesel not only depletes the food supply by creating a competing use in fuel, but that it also contributes to higher prices at the grocery store. In reality, biodiesel is playing a vital role in strengthening America’s food security and reducing rising pressures on food prices. Rather than competing with food, biodiesel production applies a “food THEN fuel” approach by adding economic value for food industry byproducts and sending economic signals to the market to produce more. Biodiesel production helps make the food and agricultural sectors more profitable, incentivizes the production of protein and generally helps keeps grocery items, like meat, from increasing in price more than they already would due to inflation and petroleum energy costs.”
Some of the facts REG cites are that soybean oil is the historic primary feedstock for U.S. biodiesel and still makes up the largest single feedstock used. With the soy oil used for biodiesel, that still leaves more than 80 percent of the bean to be made into meal for livestock, keeping feed costs down for livestock producers.
In addition, other feedstocks for biodiesel, such as animal fats and used cooking oils, have created value-added markets in those food industries to help farmers and restaurant owners make more money and allow them to them to produce even more food at cheaper prices.