Lindsay Mitchell

Oct 22, 2013  |  Today's News

Today, the Illinois Corn Growers Association alerted your Illinois General Assembly about misinformation being printed in the Chicago Tribune.  We remain concerned about the amount of misinformation concerning corn-based ethanol and hope to base any policy decisions on information based in sound science.

On October 5, the Chicago Tribune posted an article, “Crop Politics,” that contained a number of overreaching conclusions about ethanol.  Illinois farmer and National Corn Growers Association President Martin Barbre responded to that article with a letter to the editor, attempting to balance the information presented.

Similarly, Illinois Corn Growers Association President Paul Taylor wrote a letter to the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, presenting an argument that they are publishing incorrect data. We were concerned specifically with this section:

Corn is America's biggest cash crop by far, and across most of the Midwest it is the most profitable by far. Because roughly 40 percent of the crop is being diverted into gas tanks, a bushel of corn fetches a much higher price today than it did before the government-subsidized ethanol boom.

And Paul responded with the following:

The 40 percent number is unknown to biofuels science and this statement omits the fact that ethanol plants produce an animal feed byproduct that is returned to the food channel after ethanol is produced. When the food that is returned is counted, less than 20 percent of the net U.S. corn acres are used for corn ethanol production.

The editors did acknowledge our letter and admitted to having “DDGS on the radar” as a result, but still did not print a correction.

ICGA reached out to every elected official expressing concern over this rampant spread of misinformation.  That we could be basing Illinois ethanol policy on information that is overestimated by 100 percent is a huge mistake for farmers, for rural communities, for consumers using ethanol blends, and for the air quality in our state.

If you have an established relationship with your Illinois representation, consider reaching out to them to talk about this issue, or other issues that are misrepresented in the media.  We must continue the cause of providing correct, science-based information in order to enact positive legislation for our state.