What is in this article?:
- Corn growers take issue with biofuels remarks
- Other comments
• Bart Schott, president of the National Corn Growers Association, was reacting to comments by Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe at a March 22 meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations.
“Brabeck-Letmathe grossly distorted the amount of water used for biofuels production, and seems unaware that Southern Africa and India are surplus corn this year and exporting large quantities. He also took a cheap shot at ethanol being the cause of unrest in the Middle East, which completely belittles the root causes of that unrest — a thirst for freedom, a desire for economic reform and years of political and economic tyranny.”
Schott further questioned Brabeck-Letmathe’s comments about the pace of agricultural production. “In the United States we are seeing a much higher corn yield than elsewhere, a higher yield that efficiently uses each acre of land in a very sustainable way, because of advances in technology from the seed itself to the GPS that helps steer our combines,” Schott said.
“Many of these technologies are not allowed in other parts of the world, despite their safety and economic or environmental efficiency. This needs to stop. Farmers around the globe should have access to the same technology that has made our corn fields the best in the world.”
Using corn for ethanol production has helped keep fuel prices from getting even higher, while supporting tens of thousands of jobs and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, Schott noted. And when it comes to food prices, numerous reports since the 2008 price spike have shown that ethanol demand was not a major factor. The general consensus is that commodity market speculation, higher energy prices and other causes were more to blame.
A few examples from around the world:
• The United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs issued a report in March 2010 that discounted biofuels impact, stating “Available evidence suggests that biofuels had a relatively small contribution to the 2008 spike in agricultural commodity prices. Studies which have found a large biofuel impact across agricultural commodities have often considered too few variables, relied on statistical associations or made unrealistic or inconsistent assumptions.”
• In a July 2010 report, the World Bank stated that “the effect of biofuels on food prices has not been as large as originally thought, but that the use of commodities by financial investors may have been partly responsible for the 2007-08 spike.”
“It’s time for the food processing industry, which has been using higher grain prices to justify its price increases, to explain to hungry families why they have to eat less so those who can afford company stock can make more money,” Schott said. “Profiteering off world hunger needs to end, and that is what is truly immoral. If there is a ‘food versus fuel’ crisis it exists because families are being forced to decide which of the two they can afford — gasoline from Big Oil or food from companies like these. That’s something I challenge Nestle to step forward and help alleviate. They certainly can afford it.”