The 17th annual National Ethanol Conference has ended and the message is clear: the markets work.
Presented at the conference was data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing that in the last six years the world has added 105 million of crop land in the form of corn, soybeans, rice, rapeseed and wheat – all crops that can be used to make ethanol fuel.
“Our estimate is that of that 105 million acres, 5.9 million is due to U.S. soybean and corn ethanol,” said Dr. Wally Tyner with Purdue University – so around about 5 %. “So, yes we’ve had a lot of land use change, and some of it’s been due to biofuels, but the lion’s share of it is due to a lot of other things.” These “other things” include planting foodstocks to provide for the growing global population and increased income in developing nations.
The issue of land use for ethanol fuel is big; yet the issue of food for fuels is major. The fundamental argument is that food should be used to feed the population, not mashed and turned into fuel to power a machine.
These finding presented at the conference show that, yes, more types of crops that can be used to make ethanol are being planted globally. However, the percentage of those crops that are being used for fuel is relatively small. So that is good news for hungry people and people concerned over proper land use.
At the same time this could also show a drastic decline in support for ethanol based fuels and ethanol fuel production. Already the American ethanol fuel industry has seen their subsidies not get renewed in recent months.
It looks like people have finally woken up and realized that crop lands should be used to grow food and that food belongs in a person’s belly and not in their gas tank.
Andrew Meggison was born in the state of Maine and educated in Massachusetts. Andrew earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Government and International Relations from Clark University and a Master’s Degree in Political Science from Northeastern University. Being an Eagle Scout, Andrew has a passion for all things environmental. In his free time Andrew enjoys writing, exploring the great outdoors, a good film, and a creative cocktail. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewMeggison