Food Prices at Dangerous Levels – Hayden’s Note on Corn, Health and Ethanol

Posted on Feb 16, 2011 in Health, Food News, & Big Pharma

Source: Associated Press

Editorial by – Kevin Hayden

Global food prices have hit “dangerous levels” that could contribute to political instability, push millions of people into poverty and raise the cost of groceries, according to a new report from the World Bank.

The bank released a report Tuesday that said global food prices have jumped 29 percent in the past year, and are just 3 percent below the all-time peak hit in 2008. Bank President Robert Zoellick said the rising prices have hit people hardest in the developing world because they spend as much as half their income on food.

“Food prices are the key and major challenge facing many developing countries today,” Zoellick said. The World Bank estimates higher prices for corn, wheat and oil have pushed 44 million people into extreme poverty since last June.

The World Bank’s food price index rose by 15 percent between October and January alone. The increase has been driven by volatile global trading in wheat, corn and soybeans. Global corn futures more than doubled since this summer, from $3.50 to $7 a bushel, in part because of higher demand from developing countries and a growing biofuels industry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicted last week U.S. corn farmers will have just 675 million bushels of corn at the end of August, before next year’s harvest begins. That’s just an 18-day supply, Nagel said.

Hayden’s Note:

Now, before you go blowing your top about the whole ‘corn used for ethanol’ issue and blame that, first look to the 1973 decision to reverse the government corn subsidies (Agriculture and Consumer Protection Act of 1973).  Before that, corn farmers were paid subsidies in order to NOT grow as much corn in order to preserve the market.  When farmers took some of their land out of production, the reduced supply kept prices up.  With newer technologies, crops were getting bigger than the demand called for so the government intervened on behalf of the free market (first bad choice) and paid them to simply not plant as much corn.  But after the “Protection Act of 1973”, they started paying farmers to produce SURPLUS in order to yet again, be the world’s police and shepard.  Now, surplus isn’t always a bad thing, but when you’ve already interferred with the free market, you can’t simply reverse your decision overnight and not expect artificial problems.   Americans now have just about the cheapest food in the world.  But it’s also the deadliest.

Over the last few decades, we’ve had so much corn we started using it for EVERYTHING.

High fructose corn syrup.  Corn oil.  Xanthum gum.  Ethanol (even though corn is the worst choice for ethanol production), corn based meat fillers and probably 85-90% of all other store-bought products contain some type of corn ingredient.  Our livestock are now being fed a corn diet because it’s cheaper than grass.  Isn’t that sad?  On top of that, we’ve gone from thousands of varieties of corn down to one – Yellow Dent #2.  It’s simply the corn of choice for American farmers.  It’s not even edible off the stalk.  Farmers can no longer feed themselves from their own corn harvests without processing. 

Add in Monsanto, the chemical company that brought us Agent Orange, who’s Round-up Ready genetically modified organisms are resistant to pesticides and we find outselves in a world of trouble.  These GMOs self-terminate after one growing season, do not produce plantable seed and have produced verifiable, laboratory-tested side effects, such as liver damage, neurological problems and reproductive issues.  But, no one cares about that.  The farmers and the government, including the market, only care about the fact that they have doubled the yield per acre since the 1970’s.  Without government subsidies, corn farmers would go bankrupt after one growing season.  The ONLY reason they are in business today are due to government funds.

So, now we have a massive surplus of corn.  And in order to keep the market moving, we have to use it in everything.  And waste it in everything, including ethanol.   It’s what entire companies and corporate empires were built upon.  There’s no going back.  But now, we actually need that surplus for food stocks and it’s unavailable.  35% of the corn goes towards ethanol, another large chunk goes directly to commercial feedstocks and most of the rest goes to food by-products and ingredients, mainly corn syrup – which has very detrimental health effects, as well. 

Notice America’s obesity rate started drastically climbing in the 1970’s?  Surprise!  High fructose corn syrup is horrible for the human body because it’s not real sugar.  The body doesn’t understand how to compute it, per say.  Whereas the body will tell itself to stop eating or consuming real sugar, corn syrup doesn’t give the body the same cues.  And packs such a high fructose level into such small amounts, we easily over-consume it.  What’s the result?  A massive obesity and diabetes epidemic.  Gee, exactly what’s happening across America as we speak.  Dr. David Ludwig of Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School seems to agree as he informed the 63rd Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association the same thing.

Ethanol, when produced using sustainable practices and the right source, is an amazingly cheap and efficient fuel.  In fact, the original Fords used ethanol.  Shortly thereafter, DuPont – Monsanto’s parent company – helped fund the Prohibition movement and ban alcohol in all forms.  Suddenly Mr. Ford had to redesign his engines to accept gasoline.  Where did that gasoline come from?  DuPont!  They had excess “gasoline” because it was a waste by-product from their factories.  Once Ford began using gasoline engines, Prohibition ended and ethanol was forgotten.

These days, most drivers stay away from ethanol fuels because they are indoctrinated that it will destroy their engines, offers horrible gas mileage per gallon and corrodes their fuel lines.  Well, this is all true.  To an extent.  But what do you imagine when you think of race cars?  Fast, efficient engines.  Lots of horsepower and speed.  Well, they use ethanol.

Modern engines in your typical vehicle are incredibly inefficient and dirty.  They use fuel lines that will corrode from ethanol and they don’t burn ethanol very effciently.  This can all be changed with a few simple alterations, such as recalibrating your engine’s computer – or chip – to pull more oxygen and burn the fuel differently.  Fuel lines can be easily replaced with higher quality lines, as they should have been from the factory.  In fact, many new vehicles are now ‘FlexFuel’ or rated for E85 fuel (85% ethanol).  The only differences between FlexFuel and your car?  A computer chip and different fuel lines.  Ethanol also creates more horsepower!

In fact, Brazil – which is a very large country – now imports no foreign oil and some estimates say that 80-90% of the vehicles on the road down there use ethanol.  If Brazil can do it, America can do it.  And before you question the gas mileage, let’s do some simple math. 

If your gallon of gasoline costs $3.25 a gallon (not to mention the lives of our military, the cost of diplomatic deals and tariffs, etc), and you get 20 miles to the gallon… would you rather pay $2.00 per gallon for American-made ethanol that offers you 18 miles to the gallon plus more horsepower?  This would also dramatically increase our domestic employment, build new refineries on American soil, provide an entire new revenue stream for farmers and offer a sustainable product that can increase local wealth.

Now, before I confuse you with problems associated with corn and the benefits of ethanol, realize that corn is probably the worst choice for ethanol on the planet.  Sugar beets can double, triple or even quadruple the amount of ethanol produced in the same acre.  Annoying, invasive weeds, such as Kudzu, found in the southern part of America is a great choice for ethanol and grows at an incredible rate.  That’s why southern farmers can’t stand it!  Algae is another fast growing, easily harvested product that has huge benefits, especially as it relates to cost and required space.  Stale donuts from your local coffee shop can produce ethanol.  Ethanol can be made from anything with a sugar content!  That’s the beauty of it.

So next time you hear about corn subsidies or that we’re wasting our food supplies on ethanol, realize the story behind how that came to be and don’t blame ethanol.  Ethanol is one of America’s greatest hopes for becoming energy independant, which would reduce the need for war and greatly benefit our economy.


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