July 14, 2008
We welcome international discussion on the role of biofuels in meeting the world’s energy needs. While the Gallagher Review is specific to the United Kingdom’s own renewable fuels policies, it is fair to note that the research done by U.S. experts and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has shown that biofuels-related feedstock demand has limited impact on global food supply and pricing. With gas prices soaring to more than $4 a gallon for American families, the addition of biofuels to our fuel supply is one of the only things keeping prices from increasing further.
The U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture and Energy say that biofuels-related feedstock demand plays only a small role in global food supply and pricing. Worldwide, the estimated increase in the price of soybeans and soybean oil would increase the global food commodity price index by 1-2 percent. In the U.S., according to the Department of Energy and USDA, food prices have increased by about 4.8 percent. Of that increase, ethanol and biodiesel consumption accounted for only 4 or 5 percent while other factors accounted for 95-96 percent of the increase.
Let’s keep this in perspective. Last year, the U.S. biodiesel industry used only 12% of U.S. soybean production and 4% of global soybean production to produce fuel. Of that, 81% of each soybean was protein that still entered the market for either human consumption or animal feed. Technological advances are also on the horizon to increase soybean yields from existing acreage. In addition, the industry is aggressively using or developing other sources for biodiesel – such as restaurant grease, animal fat, corn oil derived from ethanol production, camelina and algae.
The U.S. has set reasonable, attainable goals with its Renewable Fuels Standard. This is good federal policy with goals that our industry can comfortably meet, and which will benefit our nation’s economy, energy security and environment.Author : Letters to the EurActiv editor