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A Cursory Update of a Failed Theory

January 30, 2015


In a paper written for World Resources Institute, Tim Searchinger and Ralph Heimlich re-hashed their already disproven theories of "food vs. fuel" and "Indirect Land Use Change," and repeated the years-old claim that bioenergy benefits from a "carbon accounting error." Their original papers, published in 2008 & 2009, have been roundly rejected and criticized by the scientific community and disproven by the empirical data. Bob Dinneen, the Renewable Fuels Association's president and CEO, released the following statement on the new Searchinger paper: "Providing a cursory update of a failed theory is not science and does nothing to enlighten the debate about biofuels. For the better part of a decade, lawyer-activist Tim Searchinger has been promoting the flawed notion that increased biofuel use places unnecessary constraints on finite agricultural land resources. But, the "land use change" and "food vs. fuel" arguments are as wrong today as they were seven years ago when Searchinger first gained notoriety with his doomsday predictions. As passionate as he is in promoting his agenda, the truth cannot escape the fact that real-world data conclusively show reduced deforestation, reduced global hunger, and deceleration of cropland expansion during the biofuels era. In fact, Iowa State University's Center for Agricultural and Rural Development put this issue to bed last November, finding that '...the primary land use change response of the world's farmers in the last 10 years has been to use available land resources more efficiently rather than to expand the amount of land brought into production.'" More information can be found here as RFA's Senior Vice President Geoff Cooper takes an in-depth look at Searchinger's claims and systematically disproves them with hard data and findings from the scientific community.