Corn Commentary

What Lurks Behind NRDC Positioning on Ethanol?

Geoff Cooper, who leads research at the Renewable Fuels Association, has a solid background as a communicator, which serves him, his organization, and the ethanol industry itself  very well in the face of so many unwarranted attacks on RFA’s favorite liquid fuel.

In a new blog post, he spends a lot of time trying to understand, in as charitable way as possible, why the Natural Resources Defense Council is so stuck in first gear on the contrived issue of indirect land use change – and why it flip-flopped so hard and fast on ethanol.

One of the phenomena NRDC uses to justify its attack on corn ethanol as a cause of indirect land use change is that, due to increased ethanol production, U.S. corn exports constitute a smaller percentage of world corn exports today than in 1990. Cooper sees that as a good thing:

“Advances in technology and positive price signals are allowing farmers around the globe to profitably produce more grain on virtually the same acreage. It wasn’t so long ago that the U.S. corn industry was being accused of “flooding the world market” with cheap corn and putting economically disadvantaged farmers in other nations out of business.”

Recently, NCGA sponsored a global farmer roundtable in conjunction with the organization Truth About Trade and Technology. You can read blog posts about it here. There is great interest from farmers around the world to expand farm technology to boost yields overseas. After all, food elitists here want everyone to eat local. Why not help other countries do that also?

NRDC’s motives when it comes to ethanol, as much as they are grounded in indirect land use, are not science based. We’re still left wondering what lurks behind their insistence on this.