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Funding Question Stymies Biofuel Conversation

Group says research on biofuels and food security should be withdrawn because of flaws and nondisclosure of funding sources.

Published on: Oct 8, 2013

The battle over renewable fuels has raged on for the last few years as pro- and anti-biofuels groups line up on each side of the argument. This week the Committee on World Food Security is set to hold its annual Plenary in Rome and the Global Renewable Fuels Alliance is demanding some information. The High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition is being asked to withdraw its biofuels and food security report.

GRFA claims that not only is the report flawed, but that the Panel refuses to reveal the funding sources for the research. Biotech industry associations from Canada, the United States and European Ethanol producers sent a joint letter to members of the panel steering committee highlighting flaws in the research. The group had asked the panel to address food security in the context of a range of issues beyond biofuels - fossil fuel costs for example. That didn't happen.

BIOFUEL STUDY: Who funded a study that looked solely at biofuels and food security? The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance wants to know.
BIOFUEL STUDY: Who funded a study that looked solely at biofuels and food security? The Global Renewable Fuels Alliance wants to know.

The report will be presented in Rome and GRFA is working to get the word out that there are issues. You can check out the letter at this link.

Questions raised by the biofuel groups include how the Project Team for the study was selected, how the final topics were chosen and what organizations funded the program. A key question is how final review of the study was conducted. GRFA claims the study was not submitted for proper peer review before being released. In the letter the groups say: "Because we have no information on [the panel] external review process, it is unknown whether any of these basic peer review principles have been satisfied." GRFA is asking for a rundown on that review process as well.

Biofuels have been the focus of many studies in recent years and questions regarding everything from water use to food security to alternative land use have been brought into review. This is just the latest study looking at biofuels and food security that may not provide a complete picture.