Studies

Earth Policy Institute reveals food-cost of U.S. biofuels policy

On 21 January, the Earth Policy Institute published a data highlight on their website about the impact of United States biofuels production on world food supplies. Originally part of the larger work, Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, which stresses more generally the importance of acting to ensure world food supplies, the analysis starkly illustrates the cost of U.S. biofuels in terms of foregone food.

"The 107 million tons of grain that went to the U.S. ethanol distilleries in 2009 was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels," it begins. Also underlining the role of the United States in world grain supplies - the leading exporter - and the ultimate inability for biofuels to meet the nation's fuel needs - even if all grain crops were converted, only 18% of fuel needs could be met - it is a persuasive contribution to the state of knowledge about the secondary impacts of increased biofuels production.

The data highlight can be accessed here. The supporting datasets are also available for download.

The full book Plan B 4.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization can be downloaded for free in its entirety here.

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