Record soy exports expose critical flaw in land use theory

Record soy exports expose critical flaw in land use theory

As has been pointed out multiple times on this blog, there are serious flaws in the theory of indirect land use change (ILUC) and the models used to predict it. But that’s not where the flaws end. There are also significant errors in data. As National Biodiesel Board CEO Joe Jobe said in a recent interview regarding ILUC theory: The elements that are not predictions, that are known, quantifiable data are actually wrong.

Well, another piece of known, quantifiable data came out today and again it exposed the flaw of ILUC theory. As you can read from a Growth Energy policy briefing (pdf), the theory of ILUC is essentially that corn for ethanol displaces other crops, namely soy, and therefore farmers in Brazil cut down the rainforest to grow soy and fill the demand.

The problem is that the theory does not square with known, quantifiable data. The U.S. Soybean Export Council released export data for U.S. soy export marketing year 2008-2009, which ended September 30, 2009. It was the third record year of soybean exports in a row as exports increased 11% from the previous marketing year. These record exports come at the same time that ethanol production is rapidly increasing. If the theory of ILUC was correct, an increase in corn used for ethanol should result in a decrease of soy exports, not an increase. How much more data contradicting the theory do we need before we put this theory out to pasture?