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Halt US biofuel production, says UN director

A United Nations’ Agency has called on the US to suspend its biofuel mandate, as the country suffers its worst drought in fifty years.

A lack of rain and heatwaves across the US this summer has destroyed much of the country’s corn crops, driving up prices and contributing to global shortages.

Corn being harvestedAs part of the country’s efforts to increase energy independence, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) oversees the implementation of the Renewable Fuel Standard mandate which requires around the country’s renewable fuel volume to reach 36 billion gallons by 2022-much of which will be sourced from corn crops.

According to the latest forecasts from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) this year’s corn yield could be the lowest since 1995 and will push wholesale prices to an average of around $7.50-$8.90 per bushel; a huge increase on the $5.40-$6.40 per bushel it predicted just a month ago.

Writing in the Financial Times, the director general of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Jose Graziano da Silva, said suspending the biofuel mandate would allow more crops to go into food production.

"The worst drought for 50 years is inflicting huge damage on the US maize crop, with serious consequences for the overall international food supply.

"The situation reminds us that even the most advanced agricultural systems are subject to the vagaries of the weather, leading to volatility in supplies and prices, not just on domestic markets, but also internationally."

The UN isn’t the only one organisation which would like to see the mandate lifted. Last month, we reported on how the American Petroleum Institute (API), which represents oil refineries in the country, was filing a lawsuit against EPA over the implementation of the mandate, complaining that it was impossible to meet because their isn’t sufficient supply (see story).

Source: BBC

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Faye Sunderland

Filed under: Biofuels

1 comment

Alex Kovnat

I can see a valid technical argument for at least suspending the renewable fuel (which is met mainly with corn-derived ethanol) requirement, owing to the drought and heat wave we've had this past summer here in the States. But I don't believe the UN should have the authority to tell us what to do.

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