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The Following is From an ILSR press release I got in my inbox this morning:

A new policy brief from the
Minneapolis based Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) criticizes
the authors of two recent studies published in Science for advancing a
conclusion not supported by their own studies.

"The studies usefully estimate how much carbon will be released when new land is brought into crop production," says David Morris, ILSR’s Vice
President and author of Ethanol and Land Use Changes. "But the authors’
declarations that ethanol increases greenhouse gas emissions, a conclusion that has made headlines around the world, is not supported, and may be contradicted, by their own data."

The report notes that the vast majority of today’s ethanol production comes from corn cultivated on land that has been in corn production for generations. "Since little new land has come into production, either directly or indirectly, the current use of ethanol clearly reduces greenhouse gas emissions," says Morris, who served six years on an
Advisory Committee on biomass to the U.S. Departments of Energy and

The studies fail to recognize the very low greenhouse gas emissions from
advanced ethanol plants, plants that can reduce emissions by over 50
percent as compared to gasoline. Nor do the studies factor in the higher
greenhouse gases that will be emitted when crude oil is extracted from unconventional sources like tar sands.

A controversial part of these studies examines the indirect impacts of
growing energy crops. For example, if corn acreage displaces soybeans in
the U.S., the authors assume that an equal amount of soybeans will have
to be grown in the rest of the world to make up for that loss in animal
feed. But a byproduct of corn ethanol production is a high protein
animal feed called distiller’s grains. Indeed, distiller’s grains
produce more protein per acre of corn harvested than is produced from an
acre of soybeans.

The most contentious part of the studies may be the conclusion that when
countries import less food and feed from the U.S., growing more themselves, that greenhouse gases increase. "The conclusion is not only
counterintuitive, but will undoubtedly stir up considerable opposition
by farmers and advocates of local food around the world," says Morris,
who also has served as an advisor to the energy administrations of
Presidents Ford, Carter, Clinton and George W. Bush.

ILSR’s full report, Ethanol and Land Use Changes, is available at To arrange an
interview with Mr. Morris, contact Brooke Gullikson at 612-379-3815.

Since 1974, ILSR has worked with citizen groups, governments and private
businesses in developing practices that extract the maximum value from
local resources.


Brooke Gullikson
Communications Associate
Institute for Local Self-Reliance
Minneapolis, MN

612.379.3815 ext. 205

Originally posted to MinneaPolitics on Fri Feb 15, 2008 at 08:59 AM PST.


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