From Volume 6, Issue Number 4 of EIR Online, Published Jan. 23, 2007

This Week You Need To Know

Bio-Foolery Is Causing 'Food Shocks'

by Marcia Merry Baker and Christine Craig

It shouldn't take a specialist to realize that the current fad of "biofuels" is a scientific fraud, roughly equivalent to Jonathan Swift's depiction of scientists trying to produce light from excrement. Sure, it's a scientific challenge—but it's absolutely insane. The reality is that humanity's demand for clean and plentiful energy can only be met by an advance into the nuclear realm of fission and fusion power. As we reveal below, the "biofuel" alternative is not only a rip-off, but also it will never solve the energy crisis, and will starve people in the meantime.

The impact of biofuels mania on the food chain, is now hitting as food shocks at points all along world supply lines. This results from interaction with pre-existing crises of low grain stocks, marginalized agriculture, monoculture cropping, speculation, and the many other features of globalization.

The most dramatic effects so far relate to corn (maize), the grain for which the United States has typically accounted for over 40% of the world's annual production, and 70% of annual exports. But in 2006, fully 20% of the entire U.S. corn harvest went into ethanol distilleries, creating an automatic squeeze on exports, current and near future, and domestic uses as well.

Mexico, forced by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to be a corn-importer, is in a corn-for-tortillas crisis. U.S. livestock producers are being hit by sky-high corn-for-feed prices, and family-scale operations are threatened with shutdown. Unless stopped, this food-for-fuels dynamic—based on a scientific fraud of net energy gains from bio-mass—will guarantee outright famine.

Who will starve? "In the long run, it means that we are fueling our cars with food that people might have eaten. There are important trade-offs," was the warning from the Director of Public Resources, Lisa Kuennen-Asfaw, for the Catholic Relief Services, who put out an alarm in mid-January, that the agency is being forced to drastically cut its international food aid for the coming year. One SUV's 25-gallon tank of ethanol consumes enough grain to feed one person for a year, is the calculation of the trade-off, by Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute....
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