Report: Crop-Based #Biofuels Don’t Impact Food Supply

Joanna Schroeder

A recently released report finds that biofuels from crops do not harm food supplies. “Reconciling food security and bioenergy: priorities for action,” was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the World Bank along with several other international organizations. According to the findings, “The high-profile expansion of ethanol production in the United States and Brazil, in tandem with a global price spike in food and commodities in 2007–2008, led many to contend that a causal relationship exists between biofuels expansion and food insecurity.”

coverThe report authors continue, “The apparent short-term correlations are often cited as evidence of negative impacts of biofuels on food security. There are several problems with such assertions. First, many studies attribute the food price spikes in 2008 primarily to other factors such as oil prices, economic growth, currency exchange rates and trade policies. Speculation in food commodities also contributed to price spikes in 2008 and 2011. Second, the correlations did not persist as global biofuel consumption continued to grow and cereal prices fell or showed distinct patterns over the last six years, driven by oil price, national agricultural policies and exchange rates.”

The research identified several conclusions, one being that while the 2012 U.S. drought caused some ethanol plants to reduce output or temporarily shut:

“[t]hanks, in part, to the ethanol ‘supply cushion’ and market flexibility, there was not a notable jump in commodity prices as the 2012–2013 crop was harvested, despite a drought affecting 80% of U.S. agricultural land.”

“These findings reflect what the U.S. ethanol industry has been saying for some time — there is no correlation between the growth of biofuels and food supplies,” said Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “Last year, farmers harvested a corn crop of 13.6 billion bushels, the third-largest ever. When grain stocks and ethanol co-products are properly considered, more grain is available for food and feed today than ever before. Meantime, one-third of every bushel of grain that enters the ethanol process is enhanced and returned to the feed market, most often in the form of distillers grains, corn gluten feed and corn gluten meal.”

Dinneen concluded, “This report should end the debate with those that continue to perpetuate the outdated and inaccurate ‘food versus fuel’ myth. There is clearly more than enough ethanol to feed and fuel the world.”

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