New York Times Story Overlooks Impact of Speculators, Oil on Food Prices

WASHINGTON – Responding to quotes attributed to “experts” in a New York Times story examining whether biofuels are pushing up food prices, Growth Energy released a series of previously-published scientific studies, analyses and reporting that shows other factors – global weather, speculators and the cost of oil – are the major drivers of high grocery prices.

“When winners and losers are chosen by the press, it doesn’t fairly or factually present the truth to the public or to policymakers. Citing one group of experts while declining to represent another side of experts is playing favorites, which is why Growth Energy wants to set the record straight,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “Whether it’s academic, government or private-sector analysis, genuine and even-handed studies of the cost of food shows that weather, non-commercial speculators and energy costs are the real drivers of grocery bills.”

Growth Energy released the following studies as some examples of what was missing from the Times report:

  • An Oak Ridge National Laboratory study found that the variables in analyzing “indirect land use change” formulas are open to broad interpretation, but their modeling suggests little or no impact from ethanol production;
  • This U.S. Department of Energy study found use of corn in U.S. ethanol production had “minimal to zero” impact on global demand for food;
  • This World Bank study on the previous commodity bubble in 2008 found that the dominant cause of high food prices was the price of oil – because of oil’s influence over the cost of shipping, packaging and marketing finished groceries. Remember, only cents on the dollar of every grocery bill goes back to the farmer.
  • This terrific report by Harpers Magazine concluded that Wall Street hijinks – notably, the use of grain commodity index funds as internal piggy banks by giant investment banks like Goldman Sachs – were another major driver behind high global food prices.
  • This peer-reviewed study published in the scientific journal Energyfound that increases in feedstock and agricultural yields have steadily absorbed any demand from biofuels, meaning there is no credible link between high food prices and biofuels production.


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About Growth Energy
Growth Energy is a group committed to the promise of agriculture and growing America’s economy through cleaner, greener energy. Growth Energy members recognize America needs a new ethanol approach. Through smart policy reform and a proactive grassroots campaign, Growth Energy promotes reducing greenhouse gas emissions, expanding the use of ethanol in gasoline, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil, and creating American jobs at home. More information can be found at