Godammit, Ginty. Don't you understand anything about economics? Don't you know that when more corn is planted and used for fuel that less land is available for food grain production? Don't you care about anybody outside Ontario? Sure, food prices have risen in Ontario. Sure, corn ethanol, might not be the biggest factor. But, dammit, it is a factor and it's contributing to the global food crisis. People are hungry. People are starving. People are rioting for affordable food.
He said yesterday that the three-year-old program to support the production of ethanol - a corn-derived alcohol used as a gasoline additive - is not the dominant factor in increasing the price of corn and other commodities.
Mr. McGuinty said that energy prices have risen and that severe droughts in the world have limited crops. He also noted that an emerging middle class in China and India is seeking a better quality of food.
"A whole bunch of circumstances are driving up food prices," he told reporters after speaking to the fourth annual Agri-Food summit.
Ontario launched a 12-year, $520-million plan in 2005 after implementing a requirement that there be at least 5 per cent ethanol in all gasoline sold in the province. More than $26-million in capital grants to producers have been approved, with operational grants allocated for 485 million litres of ethanol in the next decade.
The incentives are luring investors into the ethanol business, and there are fears that production of the additive could eventually consume virtually all of the province's corn production of about 283 million bushels a year. The concern, which seems borne out by recent food riots in Asia, is that the scarcity of the commodity will push up prices for food processors dependent on corn for cereals and sweeteners and for farmers who use corn to feed their poultry.
Last year, about 2.1 million acres of land in Ontario were planted in corn, compared with 1.6 million acres the year earlier. Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture expect the acreage devoted to corn to increase significantly in the next few years.
The ministry estimates Ontario farms are providing about 350 million litres of the current demand for ethanol of 850 million litres. It anticipates that by 2012, Ontario will be producing 1.8 billion litres and will be an exporter, rather than an importer.
Mr. McGuinty said the government is convinced that Ontario's hunger for corn is not driving up prices.
"The big driver here in Ontario has not been ethanol," he told reporters. "All grain prices have gone up, not just corn."
Agriculture Minister Leona Dombrowsky said the government has invested $7.5-million into research on ethanol production that leaves corn kernels for consumer use and derives ethanol from the husks and stalks left after harvesting.
People are eating dirt, Mr. Premier. How much worse does it need to get?
And what does Ginty say?Jonathan M. Katz in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Associated PressJanuary 30, 2008
It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud.
With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some must take desperate measures to fill their bellies.
Charlene, 16 with a month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.
The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium. But in places such as Cité Soleil, the oceanside slum where Charlene shares a two-room house with her baby, five siblings, and two unemployed parents, cookies made of dirt, salt, and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.
"When my mother does not cook anything, I have to eat them three times a day," Charlene said. Her baby, named Woodson, lay still across her lap, looking even thinner than the slim 6 pounds, 3 ounces (2.7 kilograms, 85 grams) he weighed at birth.
Though she likes their buttery, salty taste, Charlene said the cookies also give her stomach pains. "When I nurse, the baby sometimes seems colicky too," she said.
(Source: National Geographic. Read more...)
"The big driver here in Ontario has not been ethanol," he told reporters. "All grain prices have gone up, not just corn."Look, you dumbass, we all know that nobody's starvin' to death in Ontario. Nobody's rioting for food in Ontario. Nobody's eatin' dirt in Ontario. The food crisis threatens to destabilize poorer countries all over the world. Don't you even read the newspapers, Ginty? Are you just as uninformed that other ignoramus non-reader who also supports ethanol?
Canada needs to get off the ethanol bandwagon. Now. Not after food riots come to Canada. Not after tens of thousands perish from malnutrition and civil violence brought about by hunger. Now.
We don't live in a closed economy, Ginty. What we do here has effects in Haiti, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast and hundreds of other hellholes where people normally spend 75% of their income on food.
Here in Ontario, we spend between 10% and 20% of our income on food. If food prices double, like they have already done in many countries, we will spend between 20% and 40% of our income on food. Some Ontarians may have to forgo the Big Macs and a few Timmy's donuts. Some may need to resort to food banks. We'll need to tighten our belts and start gettin' back to basics like buyin' Ontario-grown produce and eatin' less processed crap and less fast food. For some, it'll be an adjustment. They'll live.
In places where they were already spending 75% of their income on basic foods, a doubling of food prices means they need 150% of their income for food. I ain't an economist, either, Ginty, but I know that spendin' 150% of yer income on food don't leave much for shelter or clothing or any of the other necessities of life.
When folks are starvin' to death, they got nothin' to lose. They blame their gummints and the rich assholes in the West. They are easily recruited to violent movements, jihads, revolutions and riots.
Ontario ain't the only guilty party. Ontario's support for ethanol may not be "the dominant factor" but, it's one of the factors and it's one over which the Ontario gummint has control.
Ontario cannot single-handedly eliminate world hunger. We don't need to contribute to it, though. The UN food program estimates a $500 million shortfall this year in its valiant effort to adequately feed 89 million poor bastards who can't afford basic sustenance. Instead of pumpin' our money into a scam that does nothing for the environment and is making wealthy commodities dealers salivate with glee over windfall profits, we could be helpin' the poor and hungry. We could lead the way.
Or, we can let them eat dirt.