RFA says new study refutes NWF’s LUC claims about ethanol

April 8, 2019 |

In Washington, new study published in the academic journal Biomass and Bioenergy exposes the fatal methodological flaws and erroneous conclusions regarding biofuels and land use change (LUC) found in recent studies paid for by the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). In addition, the new analysis found that U.S. biofuels expansion has not caused a detectable increase in the U.S. food prices.

“The real-world data showed no evidence of food price increases or other lands converting to agriculture because of biofuel,” according to the study, which was conducted by scientists at the University of Idaho and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The research was funded by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and USDA Office of the Chief Economist.

The new analysis found that the type of satellite data relied upon by NWF is error-prone, unreliable, and “misleading.” According to the report, “The automated [satellite] land use classification errors were biased towards classifying ambiguous land as agriculture.”

Specifically, the authors manually inspected actual land uses to see if the satellite imagery used by NWF correctly classified the land use. The researchers found that 10.9% of actual non-agricultural land was misclassified as agricultural land by the satellite data. Further, while automated classification using the satellite data showed an 8.53% increase in agricultural land from 2011-2015, the manual classification indicated no significant land use change at all.

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