Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

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Thread: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

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    Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Food vs. fuel a global myth

    In the last five years:

    • The U.S. corn crop has grown by 35%
    • The U.S. production of distillers grain has quadrupled.
    • The U.S. net corn food and feed production has increased 26%


    For those that think the foregoing has resulted in the decreased production of other foods:

    • Soybean plantings are up 18% this year
    • Wheat plantings are up 6% this year


    So why are prices going up? Simple: U.S. farm exports are up 23% this year.

    More facts to ponder:
    • There are 800 million acres of farmland in the U.S., and only about 30 percent of it is actually being used to grow anything.
    • a $3 box of cornflakes contains 15 ounces of corn that cost 8 cents when bought from the farmer. So, farm commodity prices have almost no effect on retail prices.
    • According to Merrill Lynch analysts, without biofuel programs, the price of oil would be about $13 a barrel higher than it now is. A $13 savings for each barrel could save the U.S. $65 billion in foreign oil payments.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    If these numbers are accurate, and I have no reason to think they're not, then I'm glad someone is debunking the food vs fuel frenzy out there right now.

    I live in a place where E85 is virtually unavailable and what is around is no cheaper than regular gas. I'm not looking for big savings but I'd at least like E85 at a price that evens out the MPG loss. I just worry that the current environment won't help get E85 around here anytime soon.
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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Great article (editorial?).

    I am not a big fan of corn ethanol (I think its going to prove to be transitional), but I am very suspect of these claims that ethanol is somehow driving up the price of food worldwide.

    Apart from the detailed arguements laid out in this article...consider the fact that practically every single commodity everywhere is getting more expensive: Precious Metals, Petroleum, Coal, Aluminum, Steel, etc...

    One thing is driving these higher prices: Demand. And that demand is coming from the tremendous growth of developing counries all around the world (BRIC, Eartern Europe, etc...).

    There is nothing wrong with corn, wheat, and soy prices getting higher. If the demand is there, that's exactly what should happen.

    And frankly, if those crops are more valuable as fuel energy istead of food...then that's what they should be used for. What should not happen are all these people trying to stop the technological revolution happening with Biofuels. These biofuels may or may not work out in the end...but let them develop and see where they go. Technology is too hard to predict, and shouldn't be artificially restricted.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    I have a feeling a lot of the hysteria around ethanol would go away if people realized that based on cost they eat more oil than food.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    What then of the recent call by some Senators (including McCain) for the EPA to roll back ethanol requirements in coming years due to food prices? http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/...nol/index.html
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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by Ach View Post
    What then of the recent call by some Senators (including McCain) for the EPA to roll back ethanol requirements in coming years due to food prices? http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/...nol/index.html
    Its election season................

    Many in the GOP are making money off of oil and want biofuels to go away as they threaten their oil profits......

    They are on purposely putting out false information about the increased cost of food being from the increased use of bio fuels. Most Americans are not going to double check on this info and the mainstream news media will not report on it (smaller media outlets will and they are talking about it).

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by 63GrandSport001 View Post
    Its election season................

    Many in the GOP are making money off of oil and want biofuels to go away as they threaten their oil profits......

    They are on purposely putting out false information about the increased cost of food being from the increased use of bio fuels. Most Americans are not going to double check on this info and the mainstream news media will not report on it (smaller media outlets will and they are talking about it).
    You are giving politicians far too much credit. There is no conspiracy to manipulate oil company profits. The politicians are just pandering to society's lowest common denominator: food prices are high, so blame someone.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by SJZ3 View Post
    Great article (editorial?).

    I am not a big fan of corn ethanol (I think its going to prove to be transitional), but I am very suspect of these claims that ethanol is somehow driving up the price of food worldwide.

    Apart from the detailed arguements laid out in this article...consider the fact that practically every single commodity everywhere is getting more expensive: Precious Metals, Petroleum, Coal, Aluminum, Steel, etc...

    One thing is driving these higher prices: Demand. And that demand is coming from the tremendous growth of developing counries all around the world (BRIC, Eartern Europe, etc...).

    There is nothing wrong with corn, wheat, and soy prices getting higher. If the demand is there, that's exactly what should happen.

    And frankly, if those crops are more valuable as fuel energy istead of food...then that's what they should be used for. What should not happen are all these people trying to stop the technological revolution happening with Biofuels. These biofuels may or may not work out in the end...but let them develop and see where they go. Technology is too hard to predict, and shouldn't be artificially restricted.
    Basic supply and demand economics........

    The only issue with our food prices is last I checked most of the increase in our food comes from oil being over $100 a barrel is fossil fuels is used in pretty much every step from our food being planted, the fertilizer and apply of it, harvesting, transporting, the packages use oil..............

    Increases in total production is more then enough to supply the increase in exports.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    The article blames OPEC for most of the problem..
    Higher fuel prices increase the cost of production, transport, wages and packaging, the main cost of retail food. For example, a $3 box of cornflakes contains 15 ounces of corn that cost 8 cents when bought from the farmer. So, farm commodity prices have almost no effect on retail prices. But the effect of oil price increases can be huge.

    Which brings us to the real culprit: the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. This year, with OPEC-rigged oil prices exceeding $100 a barrel, the U.S. will pay $800 billion for its oil supply, and the world as a whole will pay $3.2 trillion. These figures are both up a factor of 10 from what they were in 1999 and represent a huge regressive tax on the world economy.
    Since the corn ethanol growers buy 1 unit of energy from OPEC to produce 1.3 units of energy in the form of ethanol (even by the DOE most optimistic estimates), they are part of the problem.

    Corn based ethanol is just crude oil and natural gas in another form. All that happens is that a lot of water gets wasted and a a lot of fertilizer ends up where it should not be.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by agman25 View Post
    The article blames OPEC for most of the problem..


    Since the corn ethanol growers buy 1 unit of energy from OPEC to produce 1.3 units of energy in the form of ethanol (even by the DOE most optimistic estimates), they are part of the problem.

    Corn based ethanol is just crude oil and natural gas in another form. All that happens is that a lot of water gets wasted and a a lot of fertilizer ends up where it should not be.
    This is not correct. The one unit of "energy" mostly comes from coal and natural gas, both of which are mostly domestic energy sources. One gallon of ethanol replaces 6-7 gallons of gasoline.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by HoosierRon View Post
    This is not correct. The one unit of "energy" mostly comes from coal and natural gas, both of which are mostly domestic energy sources. One gallon of ethanol replaces 6-7 gallons of gasoline.
    6-7 gallons of gas. What are you smoking. You get 30% less mileage with ethanol at point of use. Even if not a drop of gas or diesel was used to farm the corn, move it to the distillers and distribute ethanol to the pumps you would be displacing 0.7 gallon.

    Both coal and natural gas can be converted in synthetic fuels directly. That gives a much higher "energy" yield without wasting a lot of resources and tying up farmlands.
    Last edited by agman25; 05-07-2008 at 08:32 AM.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by agman25 View Post
    6-7 gallons of gas. What are you smoking. You get 30% less mileage with ethanol at point of use. Even if not a drop of gas or diesel was used to farm the corn, move it to the distillers and distribute ethanol to the pumps you would be displacing 0.7 gallon.

    Both coal and natural gas can be converted in synthetic fuels directly. That gives a much higher "energy" yield without wasting a lot of resources and tying up farmlands.
    Estimating the Net Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol
    An Economic Research Service Report
    by Hosein Shapouri, James A. Duffield and Michael S. Graboski

    United States Department of Agriculture
    Agricultural Economic Report Number 721
    July 1995


    Each gallon of ethanol produced domestically displaces 7 gallons of imported oil.
    ...
    What really matters is that the production of ethanol can achieve a net gain in a more desirable form of energy (Department of Energy; and Anderson et al.). In other words, abundant domestic energy supplies, such as coal and natural gas, can effectively be used to convert corn into a premium liquid fuel that replaces imported petroleum. This approach reduces the energy balance issue to just looking at the energy value of the liquid fuels used in the production of corn ethanol.
    ...
    Moreover, producing ethanol from domestic corn stocks achieves a net gain in a more desirable form of energy. Ethanol production utilizes abundant domestic energy supplies of coal and natural gas to convert corn into a premium liquid fuel that can replace petroleum imports by a factor of 7 to 1.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Quote Originally Posted by agman25 View Post
    6-7 gallons of gas. What are you smoking. You get 30% less mileage with ethanol at point of use. Even if not a drop of gas or diesel was used to farm the corn, move it to the distillers and distribute ethanol to the pumps you would be displacing 0.7 gallon.

    Both coal and natural gas can be converted in synthetic fuels directly. That gives a much higher "energy" yield without wasting a lot of resources and tying up farmlands.
    HERE'S A STUDY FROM 1995. Technology has increased the energy gain from Ethanol since then, but the facts are the facts. Twice the energy is created in a worst-case scenerio.

    Ethanol is good.

    http://www.carbohydrateeconomy.org/l...a_Gallon_.html

    "In best-existing operations, assuming the corn is grown on the most energy efficient farms and the ethanol is produced in the most energy efficient plants, the net energy gain would be almost 58,000 BTUs for a net energy ratio of 2.09:1. Assuming state-of-the-art practices, the net energy ratio could be as much as 2.51:1. Cellulosic crops, based on current data, would have a net energy ratio of 2.62:1.

    Our conclusion is that under the vast majority of conditions, the amount of energy contained in ethanol is significantly greater than the amount of energy used to make ethanol, even if the raw material used is corn."
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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    How hard is this to understand, that the price of wheat, corn and other foods are way higher now on the chicago commodity exchange then they where before?
    If you believe markets in the long term are efficient, then you believe this is the actual price of corn as determine by predicted supply and demand. And this has been a long time coming. Even before the latest oil spike, people have been pointing to potash prices indicating that food prices would also be going up significantly in the short term. Demand was artificially increased when the U.S. government mandated and began to subsidize ethanol production.

    The U.S. government is now trying to influence the use of agricultural capacity. The soviet union did this and eventually there was no food left to be sold in stores.

    And you can't blame opec. It's the decreasing U.S. dollar and the fact the U.S. wants to fill the strategic reserve. If the government started to sell the oil in the reserve for the summer months oil prices would drop significantly.

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    Re: Actual facts -- food vs. fuel

    Amenicans probably don't see it on their 'fair and balanced' news coverage, but this week there've been food riots across Asia and Africa due to shortages of various staple crops. No, biofuels are not the only cause. But if you have shortages due to natural disasters and climactic change, exacerbating them so the first world can buy cheap gas is probably ethically questionable.

    Almost 40 countries are facing critical food shortages as world food prices soar to record levels, the United Nations warns.
    The world's food supplies are rapidly dwindling due to crop failures caused by global warming, natural disasters, wars, and a trend away from farming food crops to growing biofuels and grain to feed cattle, the agency says.

    The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation's global food price index reached its highest level this year, rising by more than 40 per cent, compared with 9 per cent last year.

    "There is a very serious risk that there will be less people able to get access to food because of prices," FAO head Jacques Diouf said.
    I don't think it's in anyone's interest to be seen as serial deniers on this. If ethanol can be made from detritus left from food or wood or organic processing I am all for it. But every pound of corn diverted so Americans can drive Silverados (or sugar so Australians can drive V8 Commodores) cheaper, increases price pressure on the remaining pool of food.

    America is exporting more food to countries like Iraq because you conquered it and to the victors go the spoils. And crops have failed in large export countries like Australia due to our 8 year drought drought, which means there is more demand.

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