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Analysis of Biofuels Indirect Land Use Effects Finds the Science Lacking: 'Too Diffuse and Subject To Too Many Arbitrary Assumptions To Be Useful for Rule-making.'
Date:8/19/2009

WASHINGTON, Aug.19 /PRNewswire/ -- A scholarly analysis of the keystone of indirect land use study - Searchinger et al. - found the science fell far short of acceptable scientific standards. Professor John Mathews and Dr. Hao Tan, researchers from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, undertook an exhaustive analysis of Searchinger et al. which revealed that the framework used was inappropriate in that it started with assumptions as to diversion of grain to ethanol production in the U.S. but then extrapolated these to parts of the world, such as sugarcane growing in Brazil, which are actually (much) more bio-efficient. Mssrs. Mathews and Tan's analysis concluded that Searchinger et al. failed sound scientific standards on many fronts and that government agencies relying on Searchinger et al. findings for evaluating biofuels would be better served by utilizing other controls.

"Indirect land use change effects are too diffuse and subject to too many arbitrary assumptions to be useful for rule-making," stated Professor Mathews. "The use of direct and controllable measures such as building statements of origin or biofuels into the contracts that regulate the sale of such commodities would secure better results."

The issue is where to draw the boundary for life cycle analysis and how to address ILUC effects within the boundary. Non-industry experts are concerned that this is taking regulatory action too far, and the science underpinning such actions, including the ILUC calculations of authors such as Searchinger et al., cannot stand the scientific weight being placed upon them.

The Mathews and Tan analysis states that the real target of the Searchinger et al. paper would appear to be the model of U.S. ethanol production developed by the Argonne National Laboratory in the U.S. Researchers at Argonn
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SOURCE Professor John Mathews and Dr. Hao Tan
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