• Feb 25th 2011 at 2:51PM
  • 12
When you're an ex-President, you sometimes have to be careful about using two little words like "food" and "riot" together.

We know this because Bill Clinton is in a bit of hot water after speaking at the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, VA yesterday. The husband of the Secretary of State – who is currently dealing with the American response to unrest in North Aftica and the Middle East – told the attendees that biofuels can affect the political arena by causing food prices to climb. Specifically, he said, "We have to become energy independent but we don't want to do it at the expense of food riots." He also said that the U.S. needs to "make intelligent decisions with three- to five-year time horizons based on the best evidence we have to maximize the availability of good food at affordable prices."

The direct connection between large-scale biofuel production and political turmoil didn't sit well with some in the audience. The Renewable Fuels Association's Matt Hartwig responded by saing, "The driver behind rising food prices has been and remains oil. President Clinton is right that ethanol is a key to American energy security and we would welcome his support in advocating for the continued advancement and evolution of this industry to include a wide variety of feedstocks and technologies." Growth Energy even says that ethanol is the solution to rising gas prices caused by the political unrest, which implies an interesting Ouroboros situation. Oil may play a large role in food prices, but so does ethanol. And since the price of oil impacts the cost of chocolate, shouldn't we really all come together to reduce our independence on the stuff?

[Source: Des Moines Register, Domestic Fuel, Growth Energy | Image: Cliff Owen/AP]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      We respect the former President and his support of Energy Independence, but "food riots?" Utter horsepuckky!! Tripe! Misdirection!

      The US output of corn increases annually on average and only 12% that's TWELVE PERCENT (USDA) goes to any kind of food product. Most of the food product is stuff like corn syrup sweetener and chips - stuff we could live without.

      The biggest whiners about ethanol are oilcos and the fast food industry reliant on meat. Since 80+% of the annual corn crop is used as cattle and chicken feed - increased corn prices impact the cost of your BIG MAC AND MCNUGGETS. Which BTW are high fat food items largely responsible for increased heart condition, onset diabetes, and obesity. A major component of soaring health care costs.

      Bottom line is some food costs will increase - which might possibly lower American's and others' intake of high fat foods. Which will in turn LOWER some of our health care costs. So, DO NOT BE BAMBOOZLED! Just like raising gas prices drives us to better transportation choices - so too does our increased use of ethanol. A domestically produced renewable energy resource that has indirect healthcare benefits!!

      We'd like to thank the Bubba for participating in the renewable energy debate - and remind him that onset diabetes, heart disease, obesity and soaring healthcare costs are the direct result of low cost fast foods high in fat and carbohydrate. Turning more corn into fuel instead of BIG MACS will improve our health and Energy Independence.
      • 4 Years Ago
      This guy should eat is own gasoline and quit earth.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And by "this guy" I hope you mean yourself.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ah, Bill... you're an idiot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Change independence to dependence on the forth to the last word. Not trying to be nit picky as I have many errors when typing and proof reading. The way it reads now indicates more use of oil and less eating of chocolate. :)
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Ah, Bill... you're an idiot."

      Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But anybody who believes that corn ethanol has anything to do with "energy independence" certainly is an idiot.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I've always been told that the US government pays some farmers NOT to grow crops. According to this little article I just read, it had to do with preventing a huge surpluses that eventually lead to the harvested crops rotting or being infested with rodents. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2009/08/why-does-the-govt-pay-farmers.html

      So, why don't we end that program and have these farms grow crops for ethanol? It doesn't have to be food crops. It can be any crop that produces ethanol. I'm sure demand would eventually catch up, but that would at least buy some time, wouldn't it?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Just remember what sets the demand level for ethanol: federal mandates on blending into gasoline. Demand would only catch up if the Federal Government forced it to.

        And while the article you link to discounts it, farm runoff is a leading source of water pollution in this country and one of the primary causes of the Gulf dead zone. Overplanting also depletes nutrients from the soil, leading to the use of fertilizers that emit massive amounts of CO2 in their production. When those nutrients in runoff hit waterways, they create algae blooms that then die and deplete O2 in the water, killing all the fish in the stream. This is not to mention the runoff of herbicides and pesticides. Perhaps a better sollution than the "pay not to plant" subsidy would be for the Federal government add restrictions on farming near watersheds and/or having the Federal government start buying up land along watersheds and turning it into protected areas. And/or put strict regulations on herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers.

        Overall, we should only be planting food crops to satisfy our needs for food.
      • 4 Years Ago
      lol @ ethanol
      • 4 Years Ago
      Better batteries will take care of that problem, Bill. Don't worry about it.
      • 4 Years Ago

      It could happen again, certainly..
      And this time, we'll be out of unemployment checks, food stamps, and other safety net money.. riots could actually happen here if we had another spike like this.

      If we're going to mandate more ethanol, we need a better way of producing the stuff.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I think energy prices are more of the problem. Food is largely made up of oil . . . diesel for tractors, fertilizers from natural gas, pesticides from oil, diesel for shipping trucks, oil for plastic wrapping.

      It is high oil prices that cause food stock to go up in price.
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