The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) this week criticized a letter sent by what it called “anti-biofuel” organizations to Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and James Imhofe (R-OK). The RFA said the letter “grossly misrepresented and distorted the findings of recent studies by the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) and United Nations Committee on Food Security (CFS).” The RFA wrote the senators to address the letter’s mischaracterization of the studies, particularly as they relate to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The letter in question was signed by ActionAid USA et al.
ActionAid reports on its website that “to replace 90 percent of U.S. gasoline with ethanol as some ethanol lobbying groups have suggested, farmers would have to plant four times the current corn crop and use every bushel for corn ethanol fuel.”
“U.S. farmers have diverted 40 percent of corn production from food and feed to fuel, and land once used for soybean production has been converted to corn to meet the demand for biofuels set out in the federal RFS,” ActionAid adds. The organization says that “shifts put pressure on food stocks until they cross a tipping point, driving prices up.”
The RFA points out that the NAS report, in its preface, states “. . . our clearest conclusion is that there is very high uncertainty in the impacts we were trying to estimate. The uncertainties include essentially all of the drivers of biofuel production and consumption and the complex interactions among those drivers: future crude oil prices, feedstock costs and availability, technological advances in conversion efficiencies, land-use change, government policy, and more.”
A summary of the NAS report is available at http://dels.nas.edu. It also includes a link to the entire study.
The RFA also pointed out that the CFS “study” is actually a brief summary of discussions by the UN committee’s expert panel on food security and nutrition. RFA noted that the CFS report does not even mention the RFS. In regard to biofuels, the report recommends only that the expert panel consider a review process that considers both the positive and potentially undesirable impacts of biofuel policies worldwide.