Obama biofuel policy boosts world hunger

The Obama administration’s policy of producing ethanol as a renewable fuel substitute for gasoline will add to the number of people in Third World countries who are chronically hungry, according to energy experts.

The administration’s mandates for the use of ethanol are “immoral,” asserts Robert Bryce, managing editor of the monthly industry magazine Energy Tribune.

“We are burning food to make motor fuel at a time when there’s a growing global shortage of food and no shortage of motor fuel,” Bryce told WND.

“The corn ethanol scam is not an energy program,” he continued. “It is a massive farm subsidy program masquerading as an energy program.”

A controversial report released earlier this month by the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, said the increasing demand for corn to produce ethanol contributed between 10 to 15 percent of the overall 5.1 percent increase in the price of food from April 2007 to April 2008, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.


Soooo, at most biofuel contributed to a .00765 increase in the price?

(10% of a 5.1% increase: (.10) x (.051) == .00765)

Doesn’t exactly sound like a lot?

Kind of fits in with BO’s agenda of abortion/stem cells and population control. More people that go hungry, the more that will die. Thus, the population will go down.

I am for bio-fuels, but it has to be the right type and produced on land not suitable for food production. The only ones that fit that criteria is certain grasses (i.e. swichgrass witch can grow in marginal area) and algae which can be grown in controlled environment on land not suitable for crops (i.e. rocky ground, deserts) and do not need fresh water.

exactly. i can’t see any morality in burning food to drive cars while people are hungry. the fact that we can make biodesil from nonfood plants and also have things like solar, geothermal, wind, and nuclear alternatives for energy. it just makes it so i cant stand the idea of using corn even if it only makes a small change in food prices…for now.

I’m not too clear on this.

I realize this administration has some kind of general notion of enhancing “renewable resources” for fuel, and seems to have a general notion of penalizing energy production from coal.

But as far as specifics on biofuels of any kind, I have not seen any.

Economies generally tend to utilize those resources that are most practical and most economical, unless they don’t have the technoligical prowess to do it, or unless government stands in the way. Right now, petroleum is clearly the most practical and economical source for some kinds of power. For others, it’s coal or nuclear. This government does not want us to use nuclear or coal and does not want to develop petroleum resources this country has. So, imported petroleum is clearly the most practical and economical alternative.

But, this government wants to curtail petroleum use and uses the global warming argument as a club to get that done.

So, I can see how we’re being pushed in the direction of impractical and uneconomical resources; wind, solar, etc., that require subsidies while the rest of the world uses the most economical and practical fuels that don’t. I suppose using food for fuel could be another officially sanctioned, albeit uneconomical, government policy. But I have yet to see specific policies, either adopted or proposed, to use more food for fuel than we already do.

Perhaps someone more knowledgeable than I am could help with that.

ridgerunner i can understand that. this isnt a subject that gets a whole lot of press. from the original article:

Government mandates require U.S. gasoline producers to use 12 billion gallons of ethanol this year, with the requirement increasing to 15 billion gallons by 2015.

now i dont know the math off hand, but i think its gonna take a lot of corn to make 3 billion extra gallons per year.

from wiki(not completely reliable i know):

Feedstock yield efficiency per acre affects the feasibility of ramping up production to the huge industrial levels required to power a significant percentage of national or world vehicles. Some typical yields in cubic decimeters (liters) of biodiesel per hectare (10,000 square meters):

Algae: 2763 dm3 (liter) or more (~300 gallons per acre; est.- see soy figures and DOE quote below)
Hemp: 1535 dm3[49]
Chinese tallow: 772 dm3[50] - 970 GPa[51]
Palm oil: 780 - 1490 dm3 [52]
Coconut: 353 dm3[52]
Rapeseed: 157 dm3[52]
Soy: 76-161 dm3 in Indiana[53] (Soy is used in 80% of USA biodiesel[54])
Peanut: 138 dm3[52]
Sunflower: 126 dm3[52]
(Divide by 9.35 to convert liter per hectare to gallons per acre)

Algae fuel yields have not yet been accurately determined, but DOE is reported as saying that algae yield 30 times more energy per acre than land crops such as soybeans.[55] Yields of 36 tonnes/hectare are considered practical by Ami Ben-Amotz of the Institute of Oceanography in Haifa, who has been farming Algae commercially for over 20 years.[56]


so with so many alternatives including things we can’t eat and things that can be grown where food crops can’t i see no justification for corn/soy useage.

edit-soy is used for about 80% of US biodeisel the majority of the rest is corn. algae gives 30times as much yield per acre. why use corn?

With the new vertical technologies coming on-line and the right strain(a) of algae some estimate that the yield per acre could go as high as 100,000 gallons of petroleum eqivalent algae oil per acre per year. That does not even take into account that the leftover waste can be used for things like ethanol, fertilizer, and food/feed suppliments.

very true. it just goes to show concern for the environment isnt what is pushing the biofuel movement. if it was we’d be hearing about thins a lot more, and be off of foregin oil by the next election. but money and polotics seem more important these days-aint that a shocker.

This is a false statement.

The United States has been paying farmers to not grow anything. Taxpayer dollars. Why?

So prices and profits do not go down. In the 1950s, Billy Graham was asking the Eisenhower Administration if America’s surplus wheat could be used to feed the hungry. That would’ve meant somebody would send the food, for free, and pay transport costs. Surplus food was routinely dumped in the ocean.

So, under this plan, instead of growing nothing, giant megacorps like Archer-Daniels-Midland process corn and make a buck.

In countries with starving people, well-armed regimes impose taxes or fees which take away from the money available to buy more food. While the food is being transported, the drivers are sometimes gunned down by local militias who steal the food. And aid workers in those countries are sometimes killed.


Government mandates require U.S. gasoline producers to use 12 billion gallons of ethanol this year, with the requirement increasing to 15 billion gallons by 2015.

Where is all this ethanol going to come from?

No one knows how many cars there are in America. Many are not registered and are stored, in salvage yards, and some just sitting idle. But, according to WikiAnswers, there are approximately 250 million registered vehicles on the road today. That figure includes all types of vehicles. Approximately 16 million new vehicles are sold annually.
According to Wikipedia, the estimated population of the U.S. is roughly 306,000,000. Of course, not everyone owns a vehicle (or is even of driving age), but 0.81 vehicles per person is a pretty high percentage.

Compare that with this:

The total number of middle class people in China ranges from around 10–15 million to over 200–300 million, depending on the wealth and income level used to define it. We are seeing more middle class people especially in the cities along the coastal areas, where the total population is around 300–400 million people. The average person living in a coastal city can afford to own their own house through a mortgage if they save for five or six years. Average income in coastal areas is around $250 per month. While it’s difficult to give exact numbers of how many own their own home or cars, most families are either in the process of owning their own home—either through the old system of government free housing or are buying one on the market. Most of the urban population especially the older generation, have owned their own homes. Car ownership in China is still quite low; the total output for cars last year was around 6 million.

and this:

[size=2] If one judges the size of China’s middle class with the use of a single criterion (occupation, income, consumption, or self-identification), then China can be said to have a substantial middle class. Close to one-sixth of Chinese, some 136.4 million people, are middle class according to their profession; about a quarter of the population, or about 211 million people, are middle class in terms of income; about one-third of the population, or over 300 million people, are middle class according to their consumption; and some 401.6 million consider themselves middle class.[/size]

In other words, by some accounts China has a middle class bigger than our entire population… and only 6 million cars for a middle class of 400 million is less than 0.02 vehicles per person. Just wait until there are 240+ million more cars/trucks/SUVs on the road in China (i.e. when the Chinese middle class achieves “consumption parity” with today’s U.S. middle class)!

Our nation’s farmers, on average, are aging, and the amount of U.S. farmland is shrinking – and fewer children are interested in farming. The amount of farmland in the U.S. is only going to continue to shrink – and probably at an ever-increasing rate at that.

According to the USDA, only about 46% of farmland in the U.S. is cropland, the rest is woodland and pastureland. So, 434 million acres of cropland in the U.S. in 2002. With 80 million acres of land in the U.S. already planted to corn, that’s a shade or two under 20% of all available cropland just for corn (and 20% of that corn is exported).

One also has to look at the costs and thermal efficiencies of actually producing alternative fuels, plus the costs and energy losses associated with transporting, storing, and transferring these alternative fuels, plus the performance results of using these alternative fuels, to do a true apples-to-apples comparison of the economic viability of these alternative fuels. Personally I would think that, if there were something more economically viable than fossil fuels, the oil companies would already be using it (at least internally), to reduce their own costs and maximize their shareholder value. After all, “why burn fossil fuels to produce/transport/store/transfer fuel, if we could burn something else instead and sell all that fossil fuel we’d otherwise burn?” That the oil companies are not already doing this speaks volumes.

The oil companies need to maintain record profits by continuing to sell ‘product.’ In the Detroit News, yesterday, there was an article saying some believe people won’t buy alternative fuel cars as long as gas prices stay low. Does anyone here think gas prices are low?

Nope. The combination of Big Steel, the Auto Industry and the Oil Companies must transition into any new energy source as a unit, and all of them want to sell as much ‘product’ as possible.

A few years ago, an article in a business magazine stated that the investment potential of China was lower than originally thought because too many people “are not economically active.” Poor. The word is Poor.

A man in China who had a 401K lost it after the economic meltdown. He went back to the farm.


actually i do. less than $2/gallon. its cheaper than pretty much any other liquid except water, and that can go to either extreme based on the label. sure last year there was a spike an we payed gasp a dollar more per gallon, but really the stuff is cheap.

A fellow I know is in the business of using “waste” products to produce saleable stuff. He does very well at it, too. He devised a way to use some kind of theretofore considered useless oily byproduct of corn ethanol production, to make biodiesel. It’s hard stuff to get rid of, so he gets it for almost nothing.

But even so, his words to me were that there is no way in the world you can manufacture a product cheaply enough to replace something you can pump out of the ground. His “bonanza” is possible only because so many subsidies are infused into the process along the way; subsidies he benefits from, and without which he could never convert that stuff into a product cheaply enough that people would buy it.

If any of these “green energy” things were anywhere near competitive with fossil fuels, we would already be using them, and they wouldn’t need a dime of subsidy.

The fact that something needs to be subsidized in order to be competitive tells you its time has not yet arrived.

It’s my understanding that most biofuels use more energy to make than they replace. So to make a gallon of biodiesel takes more than a gallon or equivalent (electricity, coal)
to make.

That’s a *huge *problem with biofuels.

Yeah I have heard something like that too. Personally I say we go for nuclear energy…but even that has the unrenewable problem…much better alternative then coal or oil though.

You heard? Why guess when you can find out?


We’re on the internets… :wink:


Truly interesting. And if it’s economically competitive, it will require neither subsidies nor government mandates.

If it isn’t, then one has to figure out how much taxpayer subsidy it will take to prevent our economy from suffering relative to other economies because of the higher cost of the energy we use.

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