Once again, ethanol is being attacked by the national media for causing food shortages.
In a Washington Post editorial today, long-time ethanol opponent Tim Searchinger writes about “How biofuels contribute to the food crisis.” While admitting the “2008 food crisis” resulted from a number of causes, Searchinger said, “We should recognize the ways in which biofuels are driving it.”
In response, Growth Energy released a chart showing ethanol’s small slice of total global grain supplies and CEO Tom Buis said Searchinger used the op-ed to defend his “indirect land use scheme.”
“Ethanol is both a food and a fuel business. What is ignored in this piece is that every ethanol plant in the country turns out animal feed as well as fuel – we only take the starch out of the corn kernel but put all the protein, fiber and oils right back into the food supply as ‘dried distillers grains.’ Even then, ethanol’s use of the global grain supply is a fraction,” said Buis. “The notion that ethanol is causing today’s food crisis ignores reality: the reality of the market, the reality of global trade agreements, the reality that other countries have their own domestic farm policies, and the reality that Wall Street’s rampant speculation is driving up food prices.”
Buis and Todd Becker, CEO of Green Plains Renewable Energy, held a telephone press conference this morning to address the issue.
Becker noted the reasons our country should be very supportive of ethanol. “Ethanol today, without the tax credit, is the cheapest motor fuel in the world that you can buy today,” he said. “We’re even cheaper than Brazilian ethanol today because we can make it more competitively than they can.”
Noting the importance of low cost distillers grains as livestock feed, Becker said, “When you talk about 40% of the corn kernel that goes right back into the feed supply, ethanol doesn’t just fuel, it feeds America as well. “Anybody that says that we’re not contributing that we’re not contributing to cheaper food supplies doesn’t understand the full equation.”
Listen to the press conference here – Becker’s comments start at about 22 minutes in when he joins the call. Growth Energy Press Conference