RFA: Economic models are one thing, reality is another

By Renewable Fuels Association | March 30, 2015

Science Magazine has published yet another study from environmental activist and attorney Timothy Searchinger that re-packages his already disproven theory of food vs. fuel. His assertions about the impact of biofuels on food markets run counter to the facts on the ground and have been debunked time and time again. The Renewable Fuels Association once again exposes the holes in Searchinger’s theory as Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the RFA, released the following statement:

“Economic models are one thing — reality is another. Data from the last decade clearly show that feed grains (like corn) used to produce meat have not been ‘diverted’ away from animal feed markets to make biofuels. In fact, even after accounting for the grain used for ethanol, more grain is available for feed and food use today than at any time in history. If biofuels were truly diverting grain away from food and feed production and causing scarcity, we would expect to see food prices rising abnormally — but this clearly isn’t happening. The United Nations food price index is at its lowest point since the global recession in 2009, and in real terms today’s food prices are lower than in the 1960s and 1970s.

“What’s more, the UN says per capita food supply and protein supply are both at record levels globally — in other words, there is more food available per person today than ever before. Global hunger has fallen 21 percent since 1992 and undernourishment is also at all-time lows, according to the UN. Indeed, ‘scarcity’ isn’t the problem facing the world’s undernourished and hungry — rather, the incredulous amount of food wasted is the largest nutrition-related challenge facing our world. The UN shows that ‘roughly one-third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted globally, which amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year.’ For context, that amount of wasted food is almost equivalent to the global supply of coarse grains (corn, oats, barley, sorghum, rye, and millet). Or, in other words, the amount of food wasted is 15 times larger than the net amount of feed grains used by the U.S. ethanol industry.

“Let’s not forget that ethanol producers make both fuel and feed. Only the starch in the grain feedstock is converted to ethanol, while 100 percent of protein, fat, and fiber remain available to the feed market in the form of distillers grains or other co-products. The world wants more protein — not more carbohydrates — and using grain for ethanol has absolutely no impact on global protein supplies.”