Ethanol Vs. Food:
By: Anthony J. Gerst.
Remember these words, “The wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling. . . This land was made for you and me.” The wheat harvest around the globe this year was a bust. It was either scorched or drowned. Global reserves of wheat are at their lowest in 26 years. During the last week of August wheat prices in Europe rose to L200 per tonne, which is double the price of last season. On the Chicago Board and Trade, wheat hit $7.44 a bushel. I heard today, unofficially, that it is now more than $8.00. On my blog site, Watchdog 316 dated July 24, you can find an article called, ‘Bread Four Dollars a Loaf,’ this will give you a fair look at the global collapse of the wheat harvest.
Across the planet this season, Mother Nature has wreaked havoc. From devastating heat waves to torrential downpours, the resulting effects of these climatic shivers are barley shortages everywhere. The consequences are rising prices for pasta and bread. In Italy, boycotts have already been experienced because of the exorbitant cost of linguine. This sadly will go beyond the price of linguine, macaroni, bread and my personal favorite lasagna. The ramifications of this rush to supply ethanol, with the less than perfect crop of corn, will result in increases of dairy and meat prices as well. Increased feed expenses for the livestock industry will wash over the freezers in grocery stores, like a green wave of exodus, as your hard earned capital flows to the checkered aisle.
With the exception of concerned environmentalists, little attention was paid to warnings about using corn as the bio-fuel crop of the future. While yes, we argued for bio-fuels, the majority of us opted for a more user-friendly crop. Corn is hardly a net gain on carbon emissions, good arguments abound that claims it is actually a net loss. Ethanol plants popped up like Condo’s in Florida’s real estate boom during the last year in the Midwest. One year ago there were 142 ethanol plants, by May of 07 there were 201. In order to supply these plants, it is estimated that another 10 million acres of corn should be planted next season. However, currently farmers are planning on increasing acreage of wheat next year, playing a seesaw game of chasing an elusive high dividend market.
It is widely known that over production of corn as a mono-cultured crop is not a good thing. For starters, extensive irrigation depletes water resources. On top of this the crop erodes soil, the heavy uses of fertilizers cause eutrophication in rivers and lakes, leading to the reduction in fish and aquatic life habitats. This practice also leads to the increased size of dead zones upon our planet.
The rush to ethanol production is generating more environmental damage than benefits. The money put into ethanol subsidies should have gone to further cellulosic ethanol research. Remember those hemp articles of mine, hemp is 80% hurds, they are 77% cellulose, the lead producer of cellulose in the plant kingdom. Hemp can be grown on marginal lands, leaving other acreage for food stables.
Soon, not only will you need a bank loan to fill up the car, but one to buy groceries for the week.
Noelle d'Estries, an early GO employee who took on the varied roles of Community Manager, green celebrity blogger, and more. She currently runs worstcookever.com GO entered Noelle's life in February 2007 while she was burning tires in her backyard. A phone call from the green gods at GO, burnt out the fires. Now, Noelle happily wears her GO sweatshirt while eating organic veggies and asking for paper, not plastic. A regular at the local farmer's market, Noelle shuns raking leaves and lawn maintenance, while making gourmet foods constantly. When not staring at her computer screen, she spends time with her equally attractive dog, Tessa, cat, Tim and lover Paul. She currently holds all three point records at RIT and could eat avocados and drink wine for the rest of her life.