Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Food Crisis: More on Ethanol, GM Crops, Commodities Speculation

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I'm recyclin' a bigass comment I made over to BigCityLiberal where MJ's pointin' the finger at ol' Lyin' Brian Mulroney. Seems Brine is on the board at ADM, the bigass commodities guys whose lobbyin' efforts have been payin' off nicely in the government-mandated ethanol department.

I pointed fingers at ethanol before and I still got a finger pointed at the dumbass food-for-fuel idiocy. Ethanol is one of many factors in the current food crisis. From what I can gather, ethanol is estimated to be causing somewhere between 5% and 15% of the increased costs.

Dalton Ginty weaseled out of any rethinking on biofuels by declaring that ethanol is not a "dominant" factor in the high cost of food. His brother, MP David Ginty sez the selfsame thing and is still pushin' fer Canada to double it's targets for ethanol-to-gas blends over the next two years.

The problem is that there is a combination of factors and it may be quite likely that no single factor is dominant. The high cost of fossil fuels is probably the biggest factor and it is a factor that exacerbates and compounds other factors.

Biofuel subsidization must cease. Even if it is only responsible for 5% of the cost increase, that means millions more people who are 5% short of having enough to eat.

The role of agri-corporations like ADM and Monsanto is more than just the ethanol angle. Over the past few years, money has flowed into commodities speculation. There's about 20x the traditional capital at play in commodities right now. That's because speculators are making huge profits on commodities. ADM, DeKalb. Monsanto, etc are commodities businesses that are reaping the rewards of that speculation.

Monsanto et al stand to win in their fight to get genetically modified foods accepted worldwide. GM seeds are being sold as a sure way to increase agricultural productivity in the third world. Except that increase is temporary and ensures continued reliance on already high-priced seeds.

All the parties were wrong on biofuels. Even the Greens. We can point fingers and there's plenty of blame to go around.

Eat meat every day? You're part of the problem.
Got a diversified RSP with exposure to commodities? You're part of the problem.
Waste energy and drive up fuel costs by driving when you could walk? You're part of the problem.
Support a party that endorses ethanol subsidies? You're part of the problem.

But, so what if we're all part of the problem? We're just a small part. right? Right. But the problem is hunger and starvation for 1 billion people who live on less than $2 a day. A small part of the problem may represent many, many hungry people.

Again, every party got this wrong. In politics, the toughest thing to do seems to be to admit a mistake. The ethanol mistake is a factor in the starvation and deaths of millions. Politicians and party policy wonks need to step up, admit error and change policy.

We, who are active in our parties, should be agitating within our own ranks for a rethink on biofuels. I am doing so in the GPC. I encourage LPC members to write to the McGuinty Bros. The Dippers are startin' to make some intelligent noises on this issue but, like every other party, official NDP policy is still calling for strong support for biofuels.



Pale said...

Heh. Monsanto came up today at our place too....Summin to do with "Think tanks".

Ethanol is an environmental and humanitarian disaster.
Besides the emissions. Besides the food.


But big oil, and big GM corps are going to hold onto all they have, and try to get more.

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