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Ethanol not responsible for higher food prices

1338 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Superbass
I heard about this a while ago, also saw it on autoblog: http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/0...ols-minor-impact-on-food-prices-ignored-by-m/

The Southeastern Farm Press, echoing the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), is pointing a finger at the media for not reporting on a recent finding by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). According to the CBO's report, called "The Impact of Ethanol Use on Food Prices and Greenhouse-Gas Emissions," ethanol production caused food prices to rise "only" 0.5 to 0.8 of a percentage point in 2008. We mentioned the report, but did get the math wrong a bit. According to the AFBF CEO, this report is the tool they needed to prove that ethanol was not responsible for the increase in food prices that took place last year. What's more, he stated that farmers did not benefit from the price increase.
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I wanted to read it before replying, that's pretty much what I've said. I'm not an expert on biodiesel or ethanol but I'm not a scaremonger either. I also talk about the carbon accounting in my intro to biodiesel FAQ http://www.myturbodiesel.com/1000q/biodiesel/biodiesel.htm

There is a controversy about how green biodiesel is because of the carbon accounting. In some areas, forest may be cleared to make biodiesel producing crops and there is an inherent cost to producing, manufacturing, transporting, and consuming fuel. To dispel a major myth about the current controversy, biodiesel and other green fuels are not the leading factor in higher food costs. Food costs experienced a spike due to world economic factors, a commodities bubble, politically motivated subsidies and trade tariffs, with diversion of acreage to green fuels being a minor contributor. The primary reason for the increase in food cost is the increase in crude oil prices and increased worldwide food and fuel demand. It's more expensive to farm, process, and move food across the country due to higher fuel prices, which raises the price at the supermarket. A minor explanation is that some of these diverted resources were not intended for direct human consumption ie, animal feed or processing corn into high fructose corn syrup. I'm sure that there are many small factors that I am leaving out and a full explanation is beyond the scope of this article.

While ethanol feedstock was never destined for human consumption, it does take away somewhat from acreage destined for human consumption and animal feedstock. The counterargument to this is that the same acreage or cleared forest may have been used for some other industrial use so it's wrong to say that the latest carbon accounting is the correct one. Because biofuels and their impact are so new, at this point it's best to do what you want because no single argument is conclusively the correct one. In addition, biofuel use should be adaptable. Ethanol production with sugarcane in Brazil is much more green than ethanol producion in the US with corn. Geothermal energy is a no-brainer in Iceland but it wouldn't work in Texas, where wind farms are becoming a major source of energy. Hydroelectric is great at a waterfall but a bad idea in the Death Valley Desert. In any case, I am sure that biodiesel has a place in the future.
And I'm sure it's plenty more complicated than what everyone else knows either.
In any case, ethanol has been throughly debunked as requiring more energy than it saves. At least in the US. Corn industry FTL :(
"farmers did not benefit from the price increase"

Somebody did.
In any case, ethanol has been throughly debunked as requiring more energy than it saves. At least in the US. Corn industry FTL :(
It's not really the fault of the corn industry, overeager greenwashing and politics and ethanol pushers FTL. Blaming the whole industry is a bit much since they are pushing their product. The politicians and carmakers who made e85 vehicles, have you ever seen one? are the ones who accepted it.
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