CAN WE GROW FUEL & FOOD
“Much of the current debate on bioenergy has obscured the sector’s huge potential to reduce hunger and poverty.”
-J. Diouf, Former Director General UN Food & Agriculture Organization
Declining Crude Oil Reserves
Sustained growth requires vast amounts of portable ‘liquid’ fuel. Conventional crude oil has been the main source but its supply is finite and reserves are declining as demand increases.
World oil production, million barrels per day1 80 60 40
we are here
Rising Meat Production & Consumption
500 400 300 200 100 0
Accelerating the demand for liquid fuel is population growth and increasing wealth that leads to greater consumption of animal protein and requires proportionately more land, water, and liquid fuel than plant protein.
Global meat production, million tons per year2
The increased cost and other problems associated with petroleum fuels has prompted the adoption of alternative liquid fuels; the most prominent is corn ethanol. In 2011, corn ending stocks (% of use) were at a record low and prices were the highest ever.3
Uses of Corn in the US in 2010 About 36% of the corn crop was used to make ethanol, but one third of that corn mass was returned as distillers grains and fed to animals. About 55% of corn is fed directly (as is) to animals. Altogether, 67% of corn is used for animal feed, 24% for corn ethanol and 9% for food and other use.4
*starch, seed, corn syrups and industrial uses
Not all biofuels are the same. Corn ethanol is one fuel source but another is non-edible cellulosic fuel derived from grasses, straw and wood chips. We can increase cellulosic fuel output by double-cropping and integrating cellulosic fuel production with animal feed production.
Cellulosic biofuels have other comparative advantages, including reducing US green house gases by at least 10 percent. Current estimates are that cellulosic fuel could replace 50 percent of US gasoline, improve water quality, and cost 50 percent less than current gasoline prices. But this also requires a shift in how we see agriculture and land use. Seventy percent of US cropland is suitable for double-cropping, thus increasing food production and creating new alternatives for public land use and investment.
Gas Pump CELLULOSIC BIOFUEL REGULAR UNLEADED
Cellulosic biofuel could cost
50% less than current gasoline prices4
Double Cropping Increases Yield
By changing cropping patterns, a field can yield 2.5 times as much biomass5
Can We Grow Fuel and Food?
If we understand that not all liquid fuel is the same and are willing to revisit long held traditions, policies and subsidies surrounding land use and farming practices the answer is increasingly yes.
Sources: 1 International Petroleum Monthly, December 2010. US Energy Information Administration; International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2010. London, Nov. 2010 2 How to Feed the World in 2050. Expert Paper, 2009. Food and Agriculture Organization 3 Feed Outlook/FDS-11k/Nov. 14, 2011. Economic Research Service, USDA 4 Dale, B. Biofuels Done Right: Land Efficient Animal Feeds Enable Large Environmental and Energy Benefits. Environ. Sci. Technol. 2010, Vol 44 5 Dale, B. Biofuels: Thinking clearly about the issues. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008, Vol 56
Research led by Dr. Bruce Dale, Biomass Conversion Research Laboratory at Michigan State University www.everythingbiomass.org