Ethanol Causes Marginalization of Women?

By | May 09, 2008
As I begin to write this column, another wave of biofuels bashing in the media has occurred. Again, we're hearing wild claims about food versus fuel. It is difficult to know whether to lash out and rant about the absurdity of some of these accusations or to simply sit in stunned disbelief and hope it passes.

Biofuels are being blamed for world hunger, the marginalization of women in third-world countries, and more recently, the global price increase and shortage of rice. The marginalization of women? What in the world are these people talking about, and what information source are they using that would substantiate such absolute rubbish?

The price of oil has increased more than 100 percent in the past 12 months, yet I see little, if any, connection being made by the media regarding increased energy costs and its relationship to rising food costs. The cost of fertilizer, which is largely fossil-fuel based, as well as the cost of fuel for tractors and farm trucks, has doubled in the past year. As the cost of food rises, so does the tendency of black market bandits and corrupt governments to profit from these windfall opportunities, which also drives up the price of food. It appears as though the mainstream media is blind to most, if not all, of these seemingly obvious facts.

In a recent interview with The Associated Press, Achim Steiner, head of the United Nations Environmental Program, placed the blame squarely on the backs of market speculators for the run-up in world food prices. "We have enough food on this planet today to feed everyone," he said. "Real people and real lives are being affected by a dimension that is essentially speculative."

Robert Zubrin, author of the book Energy Victory, said in a speech to the Canadian Parliament, "The oil cartel is starving the world's poor, but that's not the story you're seeing in the press these days. The media has been flooded with claims that the world's biofuels program, in particular the U.S. corn ethanol effort, is causing hunger around the globe. However, such statements are completely false. Here are the facts: In 2002, the United States grew 9 billion bushels of corn and turned 1.1 billion bushels into ethanol (3 billion gallons), with the net product thus being 7.9 billion bushels of corn for other uses. In 2007, U.S. farmers grew 13.1 billion bushels of corn and turned 3 billion bushels of it into ethanol (8 billion gallons) for a net of 10.1 billion bushels of corn available for other uses. Thus, despite the nearly three-fold growth of the corn ethanol industry (or actually because of it) the net corn food and feed product of the United States increased 34 percent since 2002."

I guess there's not much left to say, other than to encourage everyone to fight with every resource available against this misguided, yet well-organized, campaign to slander biofuels. With that said, I'll see you all at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop.

That's the way I see it!

Mike Bryan
Publisher & CEO
mbryan@bbibiofuels.com