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Facing criticism, biofuels industry forms new lobby group to influence lawmakers

Facing criticism, biofuels industry forms new lobby group to influence lawmakers

Facing criticism, biofuels industry forms new lobby group to influence lawmakers
July 25, 2008

Under attack by politicians, aid groups, and environmentalists for driving up food prices and fueling destruction of ecologically sensitive habitats, some of the world’s largest agroindustrial firms have formed a lobby group to influence consumers and lawmakers to support continued subsidies for biofuel production in the United States, reports Reuters.

The group, known as the Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy, was created by Archer Daniels Midland Co, DuPont Co, Deere & Co, Monsanto Co and the Renewable Fuels Association. Its initial budget is “in the multimillions”, according to the group’s executive director Mark Kornblau.

“There are critics who are trying to create an either-or decision between food and fuel,” Kornblau was quoted as saying by Reuters. “We believe this is a false choice. Today, more than 90 percent of crops in the United States and around the world are used exclusively for food.”

The group will promote genetically modified crops to improve crops yields as a solution to meeting global food needs. It does not aim to curtail biofuel production and will lobby Congress to keep subsidies for ethanol and biodiesel production in place.

The alliance says that the current run up in food prices is linked to high energy prices, not production of biofuels from feedstocks such as corn and soy.

The U.S. Agriculture Department estimates that one-third of the U.S. corn crop this year will be used to make ethanol. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization says that biofuel production has consumed roughly 100 million tons of grains. Food prices have doubled in the past three years according to the World Bank. The International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that biofuels account for more than 30 percent of the increase.

Environmentalists say ethanol and biodiesel subsidies in Europe and the United States have caused market distortions that have displaced biofuel feedstock production into rainforests, tropical savannas, and other biologically-rich ecosystems.

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