Editor’s note: WRAL TechWire reached out to Novozymes – a leading global producer of enzyme technology for use in production of biofuels from corn stover, wood chips, switch grass and municipal solid waste, for its reaction to a series of Associated Press stories earlier this month that were quite critical of the ethanol industry. On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the first time since 2007 is proposing that production of ethanol be reduced by 3 billion gallons to 15 billion. Adam Monroe is president of Novozymes Americas, which is based in Franklinton, N.C. The company employs 525 people in Franklinton.

FRANKLINTON, N.C. – Sometimes things aren’t always what they appear to be. Sometimes a wolf masquerades in sheep’s clothing like the recent article from Associated Press about so-called “dirty” ethanol.

What should have been a balanced media report on the impacts of the ethanol industry on land conservation, turned into a tale that isn’t really what it seems.

Allow me to shed some light on the untold truth in the article.

According to the story by AP, “Five million acres of land set aside for conservation…have vanished on Obama’s watch. Landowners filled in wetlands. They plowed into pristine prairies, releasing carbon dioxide that had been locked in the soil.” This is far from the truth.

First, farmers are not filling in wetlands. Acreage enrolled in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Wetlands Reserve Program hit a record 2.65 million acres in 2012. That land is enrolled permanently, or for a period of 30 years.

Second, acres in USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) have declined because of reduced funding and a lower cap on CRP acres in the 2008 farm bill.

Third, those “pristine prairies” remain pristine. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), no new grassland has been converted to cropland since 2005. Most native grasslands are also protected under “sodbuster” and “swampbuster” provisions of the farm bill.

Farmers love and respect the land like few others on earth. They understand it must provide for generations to come. If you want to seek expertise about the use of land, just ask a farmer.

According to AP’s sources, “Historically, the overwhelmingly majority of corn in the United States has been turned into livestock feed. But in 2010, for the first time, fuel was the No. 1 use for corn in America. That’s been true every year since.”

This claim is blatantly false. Livestock feed remains the No. 1 market for U.S. corn, taking 50% of production. What the AP authors aren’t telling you is that for every 56-pound bushel of corn that is made into ethanol, 17 pounds — about one-third — is returned to the market as a high-protein animal feed.

AP also falsely claimed that, “Forty-four percent of last year’s corn crop was used for fuel.” According to the USDA, it’s 39%, not 44%. Furthermore, much of that 39% was used to make animal feed, leaving only 26% of the crop turned into fuel. Through biotechnology, we can use all parts of the plant to generate food, fiber, and fuel with little to no waste. Enough corn is grown to support all three (with plenty left over to export to other countries.)

According to the AP, “Corn farmers have increased their use of nitrogen fertilizer from 2005-2010.” Wrong again.

USDA data shows that nitrogen applied in 2010 was down compared to nitrogen use in the early and mid-1980s, even though today’s corn crop is 40 percent larger than it was in 1985. The nitrogen required to grow a bushel of corn is down 43 percent since 1980. And by the way, yields are way up. Farmers are growing more corn on less land and drastically increasing the efficiency of fertilizer application.

AP also claimed, “Corn prices have spent most of the year at about $7 per bushel.” This is quite a substantial rounding error.

In reality, corn prices have been below $7 per bushel for most of 2013. In fact the day the AP article was first published, corn futures were trading at the lowest price since 2010: $4.26 per bushel. I could go on, but you get the idea. These facts serve only one purpose: decoy and deceive.

This story is conveniently timed to support Big Oil’s multi-million-dollar campaign to repeal the Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and help protect their market share. No wonder they are on the hunt to attack their top rising competitor—renewable fuel.

Sadly the real victim here is you, the consumer. Because they want you to believe ethanol is a dirty little secret, when the truth is the complete opposite. Ethanol has helped clean our air, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, create jobs and grow our rural economy. Don’t fall prey to the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Don’t let Big Oil and its media cronies pull the wool over your eyes. Because eventually, the wolf will bite.

(C) Novozymes