The Obama administration’s policy of producing ethanol as a renewable fuel substitute for gasoline will add to the number of people in Third World countries who are chronically hungry, according to energy experts.
The administration’s mandates for the use of ethanol are “immoral,” asserts Robert Bryce, managing editor of the monthly industry magazine Energy Tribune.
“We are burning food to make motor fuel at a time when there’s a growing global shortage of food and no shortage of motor fuel,” Bryce told WND.
“The corn ethanol scam is not an energy program,” he continued. “It is a massive farm subsidy program masquerading as an energy program.”
The U.S. Department of Energy did not respond to a WND request for comment on this story.
A controversial report released earlier this month by the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, said the increasing demand for corn to produce ethanol contributed between 10 to 15 percent of the overall 5.1 percent increase in the price of food from April 2007 to April 2008, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
“Producing ethanol for use in motor fuels increases the demand for corn, which ultimately raises the prices that consumers pay for a wide variety of foods at grocery stores, ranging from corn syrup sweeteners found in soft drinks to meat, dairy, and poultry products,” the CBO concluded.
An International Monetary Fund assessment was even more pessimistic.
“With respect to food, biofuels policies in some advanced economies are spilling over to the price of key food items, particularly corn and soybeans,” John Lipsky, first managing director of the IMF, told the Council on Foreign Relations last May. “IMF estimates suggest increased demand for biofuels accounts for 70 percent of the increase in corn prices and 40 percent of the increase in soybean prices.”
In an article entitled “How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor,” published in the Council on Foreign Relations Foreign Affairs magazine for May/June 2007, economists C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer concluded that if the prices of staple foods increase because of the demand for biofuels, “the number of food-insecure people in the world would rise by over 16 million for every percentage point in the real prices of staple foods.”
Runge and Senauer projected that as many as 1.2 billion people could be chronically hungry by 2025, with 600 million more than previously projected due to the production of biofuels.
Last year, the spike in worldwide food prices caused riots in 30 countries, from Haiti to Bangladesh, the Financial Times in London reported.
“I can figure out there are three things that could happen if people do not have food,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told the Financial Times from this week’s G8 agriculture ministers meeting in Italy. “People could riot, that they have done; people migrate to places where there is food, which creates additional challenges; or people die.”
Government mandates require U.S. gasoline producers to use 12 billion gallons of ethanol this year, with the requirement increasing to 15 billion gallons by 2015.
Still, with oil currently trading under $50 a barrel, down from last July’s all-time high of $147 a barrel, there is no shortage of oil worldwide.
Last week, the Energy Information Administration projected that with the current recession, U.S. demand for gasoline had peaked in 2007, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In 2007, EIA statistics showed U.S. drivers filled their cars with 371.2 million gallons of gasoline every day.
EIA current estimates indicate that number will fall 6.9 percent, to 345.7 million gallons this year.
One of every 10 gallons of crude oil produced worldwide ends up in U.S. gasoline tanks.