Aligning resources for inevitable food and fuel discussions

By | March 09, 2011

You don’t have to look far to find a headline about food prices: “Hungry for a solution to rising food prices,” “Food prices hit record high after a year of severe crop damage,” “Higher Food Prices Ahead, Says Unilever as Commodity Costs Rocket Upward,” “Behind Libya: rising food prices and US debt.” As food price discussions elevate so too does the discussion of biofuels and their perceived role in this trend.

Stories typically emphasize ethanol but fail to differentiate among the various renewable products. Headlines—“Why Biofuels Help Push Up World Food Prices”—and articles point to biofuels as among the factors at work in the food markets.

Anticipating these challenges, the National Biodiesel Board’s Sustainability program has developed empirical data to refute unfounded criticisms such as those circling in food and fuel debates. The program includes both analysis and awareness components to help supply accurate information to reporters, as well as to thought and opinion leaders. An example of this was a recent Washington Post op-ed that inaccurately tied biofuel to food costs. Within several hours of the story’s release, the NBB reached out to the newspaper, posted comments to the article, developed a response piece, and distributed a call to members to also submit comments and letters to the editor.

In addition to these ongoing efforts, NBB is also taking a proactive approach to defining biodiesel in the current biofuel landscape. A major outreach and advertising effort is underway to further help address predictable attacks on biodiesel related to food prices, land use change, and other unwarranted criticism likely to tackle the industry as it recovers and returns to a position of growth. This new program, the Advanced Biofuel Initiative, will help solidify biodiesel’s role as an advanced biofuel and further fill existing information voids and replace misinformation with fact.

More information about biodiesel and the food and fuel discussion is available online. Visit

(Headline sources: Bloomberg Business Week, Bloomberg Business Week, Guardian, Christian Science Monitor, Time Magazine)

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