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If we want to save the planet, we need a five-year freeze on biofuels
Guardian UK ^ | 3/27/2007` | George Monbiot

Posted on 03/30/2007 6:21:51 AM PDT by Uncledave

It used to be a matter of good intentions gone awry. Now it is plain fraud. The governments using biofuel to tackle global warming know that it causes more harm than good. But they plough on regardless.

{snip}

So what's wrong with these programmes? Only that they are a formula for environmental and humanitarian disaster. In 2004 I warned, on these pages, that biofuels would set up a competition for food between cars and people. The people would necessarily lose: those who can afford to drive are richer than those who are in danger of starvation. It would also lead to the destruction of rainforests and other important habitats.

{snip}

Since the beginning of last year, the price of maize has doubled. The price of wheat has also reached a 10-year high, while global stockpiles of both grains have reached 25-year lows. Already there have been food riots in Mexico and reports that the poor are feeling the strain all over the world. The US department of agriculture warns that "if we have a drought or a very poor harvest, we could see the sort of volatility we saw in the 1970s, and if it does not happen this year, we are also forecasting lower stockpiles next year". According to the UN food and agriculture organisation, the main reason is the demand for ethanol: the alcohol used for motor fuel, which can be made from maize and wheat.

{snip}

Farmers will respond to better prices by planting more, but it is not clear that they can overtake the booming demand for biofuel. Even if they do, they will catch up only by ploughing virgin habitat.

(Excerpt) Read more at environment.guardian.co.uk ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: algae; biodiesel; biofuel; energy; ethanol; globalwarming
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Although I don't agree with George "Moonbat" on much or with the anthro global warming comments within the piece, I agree with the salient points made here. I think it's bizarre to burn food for fuel, and awful to plow forests for this purpose. Some of the emerging algae-based biofuels processes seem encouraging to me, but growing corn or palm oil for this purpose is a path I think we'll regret.
1 posted on 03/30/2007 6:21:51 AM PDT by Uncledave
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To: RedStateRocker; Dementon; eraser2005; Calpernia; DTogo; Maelstrom; Yehuda; babble-on; ...
Renewable Energy Ping

Please Freep Mail me if you'd like on/off

2 posted on 03/30/2007 6:22:15 AM PDT by Uncledave
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To: Uncledave

I guess it's lights-out for planet Earth, then. Hey, let's not all be sad. It was a good run.


3 posted on 03/30/2007 6:28:48 AM PDT by Rutles4Ever (Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna)
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To: Uncledave
Related thread:

Use of crop not answer to foreign oil, expert says

 

4 posted on 03/30/2007 6:29:31 AM PDT by Incorrigible (If I lead, follow me; If I pause, push me; If I retreat, kill me.)
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To: Uncledave

Growing plants to use for fuel is somthing that would not happen in today's world, except for the intervention of busybodies in the marketplace.

And to stop it, all that needs to happen is for the busybodies to but out. Geroge Moonbat is one of the busybodies himself. And I'm sure that his solution is one that will involve more busybody tinkering to fix the problems caused by previous busybody tinkering.


5 posted on 03/30/2007 6:29:45 AM PDT by John Valentine
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To: Uncledave

I guess we better take care of the environment.


6 posted on 03/30/2007 6:33:11 AM PDT by DungeonMaster (Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.)
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To: Uncledave

We'll never "save" the planet. It'll die off eventually as the sun burns itself up.


7 posted on 03/30/2007 6:34:15 AM PDT by the_devils_advocate_666
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To: Uncledave
Some of the emerging algae-based biofuels processes seem encouraging to me, but growing corn or palm oil for this purpose is a path I think we'll regret.

Is there a coherent reason for your aversion? Why is burning crops for fuel bizarre? The diesel engine was originally designed to run on peanut and corn oil, so its certainly not something new.

The only objections in this article are the usual enviro-wacko BS; killing rainforests, starving the poor, CO2 causing global warming.

Diesel engines running biodiesel is one of the only workable energy solution to reduce dependence on foreign oil, and when Honda releases their diesels in the US, I'll be first in line to get one. They're more efficient, faster, and can run on fuel that doesn't come from terrorist countries.

Honda Diesel Sets New World Records

8 posted on 03/30/2007 6:37:03 AM PDT by GunRunner (Rudy 2008, because conservatives can't win.)
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To: Uncledave
The governments using biofuel to tackle global warming

What governments would those be?
9 posted on 03/30/2007 6:37:16 AM PDT by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: Uncledave
Although I don't agree with George "Moonbat" on much or with the anthro global warming comments within the piece, I agree with the salient points made here. I think it's bizarre to burn food for fuel, and awful to plow forests for this purpose. Some of the emerging algae-based biofuels processes seem encouraging to me, but growing corn or palm oil for this purpose is a path I think we'll regret.

If every arable acre of land in this country was planted with corn, and every bit of that corn used to make ethanol, it still wouldn't be enough. Making ethanol from crops is a losing proposition.
10 posted on 03/30/2007 6:38:58 AM PDT by JamesP81 (Eph 6:12)
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To: Uncledave

Do you think wholesale milk prices rising 9% by next fall has anything to do with converting corn into ethanol instead of feed?

Poor Mexicans are having problems buying tortillas because of corn prices rising to unaffordable levels.

Also read a couple days ago that some farmers are having problems getting seed corn because more corn is being planted.


11 posted on 03/30/2007 6:39:15 AM PDT by zek157
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To: GunRunner
Diesel engines running biodiesel is one of the only workable energy solution to reduce dependence on foreign oil, and when Honda releases their diesels in the US, I'll be first in line to get one. They're more efficient, faster, and can run on fuel that doesn't come from terrorist countries.

Biodiesel has the same problems as ethanol; we don't have enough arable land to grow enough crops for it.

We're better off throwing our R&D into electric powered cars and accordingly upgrade the power grid to support that (difficult, but physically possible, whereas biomass fuel from crops isn't).
12 posted on 03/30/2007 6:41:26 AM PDT by JamesP81 (Eph 6:12)
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To: Uncledave

This is what happens when the governments try to fix "social" problems. They can't see past their own nose.

MTBE anyone? C'mon California, tell 'em about MTBE.


13 posted on 03/30/2007 6:41:28 AM PDT by Tenacious 1 (No to nitwit jesters with a predisposition of self importance and unqualified political opinions!)
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To: zek157
Poor Mexicans are having problems buying tortillas

That is nonsense. The two suppliers that supply the majority of tortillas got into some price fixing and speculation and got slapped for it. Crises averted.
14 posted on 03/30/2007 6:43:20 AM PDT by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: Uncledave

I'm surprised that the hemp folks haven't chimed in yet. The stuff grows like weeds in places where food crops don't do well and has a number of other uses (besides the the favored one of the hemp crowd).

Wasting corn on biofuel does not make sense due to the degree of care and cultivation required.


15 posted on 03/30/2007 6:44:00 AM PDT by JimRed ("Hey, hey, Teddy K., how many girls did you drown today?" (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help m)
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To: Uncledave
If we are going to grow a crop for fuel, it won't be corn or soybeans. We have to be careful here not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Enviro objection to biofuels is grounded in their desire to reverse the industrial revolution. They advocate alternative energy specifically because they think it's not feasible. When they start backpedaling, that indicates to me that they are afraid it might actually work. I don't think any one alternative energy source will cure all of our problems. But a mix of alternatives along with conservation and nuclear would make a big dent.
16 posted on 03/30/2007 6:44:21 AM PDT by beef (Who Killed Kennewick Man?)
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To: Uncledave

Hey, I just had an idea. Let the price of fuels go up as demand outstrips supply and prople will find ways to live with less fuel. And besides that, they will be forced to find practical alternatives. Where do I sign up for my Nobel prize?


17 posted on 03/30/2007 6:44:33 AM PDT by tickmeister (tickmeister)
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To: JamesP81
We're better off throwing our R&D into electric powered cars and accordingly upgrade the power grid to support that (difficult, but physically possible, whereas biomass fuel from crops isn't).

Agreed. Pebble-bed nuclear reactors powering electrics is the only long term solution.

-ccm

18 posted on 03/30/2007 6:45:04 AM PDT by ccmay (Too much Law; not enough Order.)
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To: GunRunner
Diesel engines running biodiesel is one of the only workable energy solution to reduce dependence on foreign oil, and when Honda releases their diesels in the US, I'll be first in line to get one. They're more efficient, faster, and can run on fuel that doesn't come from terrorist countries.

Just plain ain't so. It takes fossil energy to produce biofuels. Fertilizer (Haber process - natural gas) Tractors (diesel) harvesters (diesel) transportation (diesel) pressing (electricity coal 50+% rest hydro, nuc) distillation (fuel oil or natural gas). What is critical is the energy balance in these processes. If they use as much energy (on according to some studies more) fossil energy than they produce, then they INCREASE dependence on foreign oil.

They're a fraud all right, but not for the reasons given in the article. They're a fraud because they're designed to transfer wealth (mandatory ethanol usage) from the general public to the ethanol producers and farmers at an increased dependence on foreign oil.

19 posted on 03/30/2007 6:45:56 AM PDT by from occupied ga (Your most dangerous enemy is your own government)
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To: zek157

We will probably never know the true cost of our government's little ethanol folly. Besides heavy government subsidies, there is also the increased cost of corn and things made from corn. Ethanol not only raises the price of gas, it delivers lower fuel efficiency. If it was the answer, then why does government put a tax on imported ethanol from Brazil? Is there anyone on FR that still believes this is not a giant gift to Archer Daniels Midland and the grain lobby?


20 posted on 03/30/2007 6:48:05 AM PDT by sportutegrl (This thread is useless without pix.)
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To: Uncledave
Malarkey. The long-term effect of the increase in biofuels will be a LARGER availability of food. What do you think is going to happen to the left-over protein portions from corn and soybeans after the sugar content of the first and the oil content of the second is removed?? They'll be sold AS FOOD.

The current price increase is simply a temporary phenomenon as the US farmers gear up for increased production.

21 posted on 03/30/2007 6:48:24 AM PDT by Wonder Warthog (The Hog of Steel-NRA)
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To: JamesP81

>Biodiesel has the same problems as ethanol; we don't have enough arable land to grow enough crops for it.<

Biodiesel can be made from used cooking oil. There's enough of that in US restaurants to make a sizable dent in our dependence on ME oil supplies. It takes less energy by far to produce biodiesel than it does ethanol, because of the recycling.


22 posted on 03/30/2007 6:49:03 AM PDT by Darnright
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To: JamesP81

[Biodiesel has the same problems as ethanol; we don't have enough arable land to grow enough crops for it.]

Actually we do. We have plenty. If the guvmnt stays out of it, capitolism will make it all work. Part of GB's energy plan breaks down the farm aid acts that prohibit (and pay) farmers not to grow crops. We do not farm nearly as much land as you might think. Government subsidies pay farmers not to plant crops in order to control supply and prices. Years ago this was thought to protect the "family farmer." Now a days, wealthy people buy big lands and grab the subsidies because there is little oversite or regulation. I don't know the deatails, but I know that part of Bush's energy plan allows farmers to grow crops for fuel at will.

If you don't believe that there is plenty of land to grow corn for fuel, I recommend you take a cross country trip via three routes; I-70, I-80 and West Texas. I don't recommend an electric car for this trip unless you have a tent and a satelite phone.


23 posted on 03/30/2007 6:50:15 AM PDT by Tenacious 1 (No to nitwit jesters with a predisposition of self importance and unqualified political opinions!)
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To: Uncledave

We need a five-year freeze on the enviralists.


24 posted on 03/30/2007 6:50:49 AM PDT by Excuse_My_Bellicosity (Liberalism is a social disease.)
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To: zek157

I asked a couple of farmers I know about the seed corn story. Neither mentioned any shortage. They pay cash, of course...


25 posted on 03/30/2007 6:52:17 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks (BTUs are my Beat.)
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To: GunRunner
Is there a coherent reason for your aversion? Why is burning crops for fuel bizarre? The diesel engine was originally designed to run on peanut and corn oil, so its certainly not something new.

Original peanut oil engine designs did not envision the requirements of the worldwide market for transportation fuels.

I'm averted to the idea of burning food for fuel because I don't like the idea of food pricing competing with other uses. The factors of food demand and costs (costs of farming and processing/distribution) generate food prices. But I have an ethical problem bidding up the price of food based on demand that does not involve *eating* the food, when it's on this kind of scale.

I've always been taught to not waste food and burning it in a Honda is a waste to me. Let's drill for more oil for that purpose until there's better options available.

26 posted on 03/30/2007 6:52:52 AM PDT by Uncledave
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To: Darnright
Biodiesel can be made from used cooking oil. There's enough of that in US restaurants to make a sizable dent in our dependence on ME oil supplies. It takes less energy by far to produce biodiesel than it does ethanol, because of the recycling.

That might be so; but it's still not enough. It would take several acres of soybeans to produce enough biodiesel for one car for a year. We're talking about hundreds of millions of acres of crops. As you say, that can be reduced by using waste cooking oil, but it simply won't be enough.

The only long term solution is electric cars and nuclear power. A company called Tesla Motors makes an electric sports car which can be charged overnight and has a range of 250 miles. Now, I'm certainly not suggesting that this car is practical. It's $90,000 price tag and somewhat experimental design means that, for now, it is nothing more than a novelty. I have a pretty long commute to work, but even so, if I owned one I could drive to and from work and run all my errands on one charge pretty easily.

As I said, this vehicle is a novelty, but it's practical cruising range serves as proof of concept that an all electric car is a feasible alternative. The power that car runs on did not come from any source in any way related to the middle east.
27 posted on 03/30/2007 6:56:55 AM PDT by JamesP81 (Eph 6:12)
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To: Uncledave; sully777; Fierce Allegiance; vigl; Cagey; Abathar; A. Patriot; B Knotts; getsoutalive; ..

First rule of civilization: Don't burn your food.......


28 posted on 03/30/2007 6:57:24 AM PDT by Red Badger (If it's consensus, it's not science. If it's science, there's no need for consensus......)
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To: Uncledave

From the Guardian, no less.


29 posted on 03/30/2007 6:59:00 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: Red Badger

Yes, but even though there may be no food there, you'll STILL be able to DRIVE to the supermarket...


30 posted on 03/30/2007 6:59:26 AM PDT by Dick Bachert
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To: Uncledave; GunRunner

Biodiesel oils from restaurants can be used as food and fuel after they are unuseable..........


31 posted on 03/30/2007 6:59:33 AM PDT by Red Badger (If it's consensus, it's not science. If it's science, there's no need for consensus......)
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To: Dick Bachert

You'll STILL be able to DRIVE to the supermarket......and pick up your copy of People, Time, Enquirer, Star............


32 posted on 03/30/2007 7:01:32 AM PDT by Red Badger (If it's consensus, it's not science. If it's science, there's no need for consensus......)
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

Popular seed corn hybrids sold out because of ethanol boom
By Thomas Geyer Quad-City Times | Monday, March 19, 2007

Farmers ready to cash in on rising corn prices already should have bought their hybrid seeds for planting that will start in the next month.

Otherwise, their first and even second choices for hybrids probably are sold out.

Corn futures continue to hover about $4 a bushel in response to the growing demand for ethanol, which is why farmers are choosing to plant more corn.

At this point, any shortage of first or second choice hybrids probably is not a problem here in the cornbelt, but it could be in states to the south, where the planting season starts earlier, said DeWitt, Iowa, farmer Bob Bowman, president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association.


33 posted on 03/30/2007 7:01:41 AM PDT by zek157
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To: Red Badger

Restaurant waste is fine but it's a proverbial drop in the oil can.


34 posted on 03/30/2007 7:02:44 AM PDT by Uncledave
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To: GunRunner

The only objections in this article are the usual enviro-wacko BS; killing rainforests, starving the poor,

If you think starving the poor so you can feel good about driving your car is a good idea then you're part of the problem, not part of the solution.


35 posted on 03/30/2007 7:03:42 AM PDT by saganite (Billions and billions and billions----and that's just the NASA budget!)
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To: JamesP81
Making ethanol from crops is a losing proposition.

Unless you grow the stuff, and then.....

36 posted on 03/30/2007 7:03:48 AM PDT by yankeedame ("Oh, I can take it but I'd much rather dish it out.")
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To: Uncledave

So where did they get five years from? I figure it's from the same place most statistics come from with envirowhackos, from their tuckus.


37 posted on 03/30/2007 7:03:52 AM PDT by dfwgator (The University of Florida - Championship U)
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To: saganite
If you think starving the poor

Who is 'starving the poor?'
38 posted on 03/30/2007 7:05:41 AM PDT by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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To: yankeedame
Unless you grow the stuff, and then.....


39 posted on 03/30/2007 7:06:00 AM PDT by dfwgator (The University of Florida - Championship U)
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To: Uncledave

An eyepopping report on the full range of subsidies, federal and state, is in the report "Biofuels: At What Cost. Government Support for Ethanol and Biodiesel in the United States" at http://www.globalsubsidies.org/IMG/pdf/biofuels_subsidies_us.pdf


40 posted on 03/30/2007 7:07:06 AM PDT by anglian
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To: JamesP81
Biodiesel has the same problems as ethanol; we don't have enough arable land to grow enough crops for it.

Says who? Sounds like the same people who warn that "the planet is running out of oil".

This is a fuel that is readily available now, for engines that we have now that require little or no modification. Where's your electric car?

41 posted on 03/30/2007 7:08:18 AM PDT by GunRunner (Rudy 2008, because conservatives can't win.)
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To: Wonder Warthog

There will be plenty of corn, most likely too much of it, when the rising prices make other methods of making ethanol relatively cheaper. I'd be hesitant to plant too much acreage in corn.


42 posted on 03/30/2007 7:08:36 AM PDT by P-40 (Al Qaeda was working in Iraq. They were just undocumented.)
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At least 43 percent of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30.

Archer Daniels Midland
A Case Study In Corporate Welfare http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-241.html


43 posted on 03/30/2007 7:09:33 AM PDT by anglian
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To: from occupied ga
It takes fossil energy to produce biofuels. Fertilizer (Haber process - natural gas) Tractors (diesel) harvesters (diesel) transportation (diesel) pressing (electricity coal 50+% rest hydro, nuc) distillation (fuel oil or natural gas). What is critical is the energy balance in these processes. If they use as much energy (on according to some studies more) fossil energy than they produce, then they INCREASE dependence on foreign oil.

This makes no sense whatsoever. Three of those variables can themselves run on biodiesel. As for the rest, can you explain how using nuclear, hydro, and natural gas have anything to do with foreign oil?

44 posted on 03/30/2007 7:11:45 AM PDT by GunRunner (Rudy 2008, because conservatives can't win.)
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To: P-40

Who is 'starving the poor?'

DUMPING US CORN EXPORTS TO MEXICO CAUSING POVERTY http://gristmill.grist.org/images/user/2988/oxfam_report_corn.pdf


45 posted on 03/30/2007 7:14:32 AM PDT by anglian
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To: Uncledave

If we want to save the planet, we should pass a Constitutional amendment prohibiting Congress from making any law that screws with the climate.


46 posted on 03/30/2007 7:14:58 AM PDT by Maceman (This is America. Why must we press "1" for English?)
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To: Uncledave

"Since the beginning of last year, the price of maize has doubled"

Oh, the horror!

You mean you I can't buy a bushel of corn for less than a 20 oz Dasani at the Kwiki-Mart anymore?


47 posted on 03/30/2007 7:16:22 AM PDT by eraser2005
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To: P-40

"Who is 'starving the poor?'"

Obviously, someone has not been shopping at Walmart lately. Our "poor" have to ride around in the motorized carts because they are too fat to walk.
The general health of the US population would be vastly improved if everyone had to grow their own food. Maybe we could reintroduce the concept of the Victory garden.


48 posted on 03/30/2007 7:16:56 AM PDT by kittymyrib
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To: zek157
Corn futures continue to hover about $4 a bushel in response to the growing demand for ethanol, which is why farmers are choosing to plant more corn.

I'm a programmer, but my company is a commodities risk management company for farmers. Today is grain report day, so it's kind of wild around here. We will be able to tell what's going to happen with prices when the market opens. There's a lot of planting going on due to high demand, and the report was very bearish. If the report is right, corn should fall hard. If it doesn't drop more than a dime at opening, get ready $5 corn. You can also expect soybeans to skyrocket further, and all food prices, especially meat, will be going up.
49 posted on 03/30/2007 7:17:40 AM PDT by JamesP81 (Eph 6:12)
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To: Uncledave
Try runnning this defense of the status quo by the third world advocates at the Doha round who are demanding we stop subsidizing farmers and dumpiong the cheap produce on the world market. You will find they have a different take on it. I see the rising price of corn as a good thing. Some say cheap corn drove many Mexicans north.

Farmers exploit misunderstandings to the hilt. After massive PR about flood losses and disaster relief, one summer I was in the Des Moines airport and eavesdropping on the conversations of farmers leaving on vacations paid for by the guv. They were discusssing what prices they got for their stored grain. It sounded a lot like a wine conversation with years and moisture percentages cited. The guv doesn't know what it is doing. My bro married into an Iowa farm family. They declared and got paid for crop losses, but the corn actually went to Tyson's in Arkansas.

Corn price has been too low since the British passed the first corn laws in 1800 to subsidize English farmers threatened by surpluses from colonies. Higher prices will enable farmers to modernize their operations to meet demand. And please explain why a wild rainforest is better than a well managed plantation in Brazil or Indonesia. Both photosynthesize.

50 posted on 03/30/2007 7:17:48 AM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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