This week, six major players in the ethanol quest rolled out an organization called Growth Energy. The objective is to promote ethanol's value and fight assertions that the corn-based product is a major contributor to food price inflation.

The members include Poet LLC, ICM, Western Plains Energy LLC, Amaizing Energy LLC, Hawkeye Renewables LLC and Green Plains Renewable Energy.

"'Big Food' and their Washington lobbyists have tried trying to blame rising food costs on American ethanol producers and the cost of corn. Now that the price of corn has dropped more than 50 percent since the summer, we ask the Big Food industry to explain to the American people why food prices are still so high," says Jeff Broin, Poet's chief executive officer.

In a policy brief the group accused the Grocery Manufacturers Association of engineering much of this year's food versus fuel debate.

"By exaggerating ethanol's impact on corn prices and corn prices' impact on consumer food costs, GMA and its allies have distracted policymakers, the media, industry and consumers from the larger trends and challenges we face in feeding the planet and enhancing our energy security," the group stated in a policy brief.

Growth Energy members say the group will push the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to raise the ethanol-to-gasoline blend rate to 15 percent or 20 percent from the current 10 percent, to ensure that federal renewable-fuel targets are met, reports Reuters. Federal law requires 9 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be used this year, 10.5 billion gallons in 2009 and 15 billion gallons by 2015.

For more about Growth Energy, check out its Web site.