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Biofuel and international food prices

Biofuel and international food prices

When you're standing there, gnashing your teeth at the gas pump, have you ever given thought to the fact that our insatiable appetite for gadding about in huge cars has caused so much land to be planted for corn to make ethanol that we're helping to drive up grain prices around the world? I hadn't either, until a short time ago.

So now people are starving--and rioting--so that we can have the freedom to take that impulse trip to the mall. It IS written into the Constitution, after all. Maybe these high fuel prices will force us, in our overriding self-interest, to re-think our responsibility to the rest of the world...


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I have to scratch my head in wonderment at how stupid our deciders can be. Why on earth wouldn't they study all aspects of an issue before they go ahead with it? And to stop doing it when it becomes a burden on the people as a whole. We need to stop growing corn for ethinol, so we can eat! We don't need to go to the poor-house because of the high prices for food.

Mr. Chan,
Spot on as usual. You are so right. Sad but true. Keep em coming.

Mr. Chan,
Spot on as usual. You are so right. Sad but true. Keep em coming.

You have to question yourself when you're on the same side of anything as Hugo Chavez. Methinks with all the American farmers that have gone out of business or had to be subsidized in the last few decades, there must be a way to grow enough corn for food AND fuel. But our search for alternative energy should not start and end with ethanol.

Ok, so you think it's ethanol that has caused food prices to increase? Only somebody with a poor understanding of the grain markets would say that. The price of oil has skyrocketed and that means all agricultural inputs have gotten more expensive(Fertilizer, Pesticides, Seeds, and Diesel for their tractors) Further more the price of corn has went from $2.00 for 56 lbs to $6.00 for 56 lbs in the course of 2 years. Wheat which is running short not because of ethanol but because of weather has gone from $3.50 to $12.00 for 60 lbs. Now considering that their maybe 1 lb of wheat in your bread that increase only amounts to $0.14 per loaf. Now I must remind you that the price for a bushel of wheat and a bushel of corn were in the neigborhood $3.50 and $2.50 for the past 2 decades. Farmers didn't get a raise in two decades and food got cheaper and cheaper to produce. Also, don't forget that agricultural commodities are traded in dollars and since the dollar is weak there is a lot of money going into commodities as a hedge against a week dollar. And finally the worlds biggest food crop, rice, is still only 22.00 per hundred lbs and while that is up markedly from several years ago it is still extremely cheap. Now the biggest spectre on the food market is China. The government buys all the grain and things don't necessarily work on supply and demand over there because it is a communist country so they will buy at a higher price. The emerging middle class in China is demanding more meat and meat is fairly inefficient food as it takes many lbs of grain to produce 1 lb of meat.

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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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