UN Calls for Halt to U.S. Ethanol Fuel Policy

By Dan Collins on 13 August 2012
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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for an immediate temporary suspension of the United States’ Renewable Fuel Strategy (RFS) Thursday, as a measure to avert a global food crisis. Most of the country’s agricultural regions are experiencing a severe drought that is the worst in over half a century.

The FAO predicts that the impact of the drought, in conjunction with the RFS’ earmark for 40% of corn product to be used for fuel production will contribute to a global food crisis, the 26% increase in corn prices from June to July notwithstanding.

U.S. agriculture policy collides with global concerns in this respect. Under the RFS, 9% of total gasoline supplies must be Ethanol, a figure that would require 40% of the country’s projected corn output to achieve. Ethanol has been used in gasoline for some time, but federal subsidies for the biofuel expired at the end of 2011. Strong bipartisan support for the domestic agriculture industry, in conjunction with the approaching presidential election, makes it unlikely that the U.S. will grant the UN’s request.

In the United States, gasoline is generally sold as a mixture with 10% ethanol, sometimes referred to as E10. E85, with 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline is available for specially designed engines. Diesel is frequently sold with a maximum of 5% biodiesel content. Ethanol-free fuel is available in some areas, especially where there is a heavy concentration of boaters.