Some Good News from the Food Crisis?

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In their Orange County Register op/ed, University of California, Davis agricultural economist Colin Carter and Hoover Institution fellow Henry Miller perceive a silver lining in the current food crisis–unscientific fears of genetically enhanced crops promoted by rich country activist scare groups will fall by the wayside. To wit:

What does the future hold? The IMF's prophecy of mass starvation will undoubtedly go the way of the earlier prophets of gloom and doom. A medium- and long-term benefit of high commodity prices may be that the governments in poor countries will be able to justify the testing and commercialization of critical gene-spliced food crops such as rice and wheat. Countries like China have this new technology ready to go, and the licensing of gene-spliced rice and wheat will quickly boost yields, and because of better insect, disease and weed control, reduce the costs of production.

Gene-splicing has been grossly overregulated and underused because of antagonism from national regulators (especially in Europe, Japan and developing countries) and U.N. agencies. In spite of a two-decades-old consensus that gene-splicing is an extension, or refinement, of less precise methods for genetic improvement, and that it is at least as safe as other techniques, it has been subjected to discrimination and obstruction.

As an illustration of the extraordinary naiveté among politicians, consider this from Al Gore: "The most lasting impact of biotechnology on the food supply may come not from something going wrong, but from all going right. My biggest fear is not that by accident we will set loose some genetically defective Andromeda strain. Given our past record in dealing with agriculture, we're far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain." Too bad there's not a Nobel Stupidity Prize.

Thus, although American and European ethanol subsidies are injurious to consumers at large, farmers in countries like China and India will ultimately benefit from them. Such subsidies have helped to create an artificial food crisis that will spur innovation, including greater use of gene-splicing for the development of improved plant varieties. That, in turn, will boost farm incomes in developing countries and moderate the price of food worldwide.

Whole op/ed here.  

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  1. I think people are forgetting basic supply and demand here.

    Check out farm sector GDP. It’s growing at something like 20%.

  2. Al Gore said:
    Given our past record in dealing with agriculture, we’re far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain.

    This is just basic socialist thinking:

    Just enough to fulfill need = GOOD
    Any surplus (see: Profit) = BAD

  3. Ohmygawd! If they stop fearing genetically engineered foods, before you know it they could start to accept modern medicine, too! Where will it all end?

  4. Leave it to Reason to find the silver lining in starvation and food riots.

    [Sigh.]

    Yeah, I think it’s swell that people are overcoming irrational fears of genetic engineering, too. I just don’t think it is wise or appropriate to measure that against the cost in human life of the current situation.

  5. Given our past record in dealing with agriculture, we’re far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain.

    That has to be one of the most breath-takingly stupid things ever said by a human being.

    I’ll step aside so that joe can rush to his beloved’s defense.

  6. What, Elemenope, you’d rather just dwell on it? Wring your hands?

    Given our past record in dealing with agriculture, we’re far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain.

    WTF? Good night…as if having “too much” food would be a bad thing.

  7. It’s stunning the number of people who take the Goreacle seriously.

  8. Epi,

    If he looked like the Oracle in 300 even I might start to listen…

    SFW pics

  9. What, Elemenope, you’d rather just dwell on it? Wring your hands?

    Of course not, A_R. I just find the ebullience regarding peoples’ acceptance under severe situational duress of technologies they feared (for good reasons or bad) to be somewhat in bad taste.

    To wit: “People are dying in Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa because we stupidly want to make ethanol from corn. But, golly gee, at least those desperate starving people aren’t scared of Frankenbeans anymore!” Pretty fucking obnoxious.

    I think it would be more productive to address the sources of the problem: market distortions and perverse inversions of incentive caused by massive government subsidization of grown foodstocks for fuel production.

  10. People are dying in Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa because we stupidly want to make ethanol from corn.

    People have also been dying of cold because oil is so expensive, which ethanol reduces the demand for.

  11. It’s Dr. Pangloss’s world, we’re just living in it.

  12. Elemenope, please take a look at the entire article. It isn’t as “golly gee” as the last few paragraphs taken out of context.

  13. My biggest fear is not that by accident we will set loose some genetically defective Andromeda strain. Given our past record in dealing with agriculture, we’re far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain.

    I am neither a biologist nor an economist, still it’s fairly obvious that Al Gore idn’t getting a Nobel Prize in biology or economics anytime soon. That is possibly the stupidest thing that has ever come out of his mouth.

  14. Elemenope,

    I don’t disagree with you. It is in bad taste. But I think the silver lining talk is more the hand-rubbing glee most of us have at the thought of the GMO opponents actually have to advocate starving people to satisfy their technophobia.

    There’s a very sick intersection in the anti-GMO/ZPG or -PG/hard Green crowd Venn diagram that millions of people starving to death and/or not having kids due to food shortages is a good idea.

    This thinking is illustrated in this article from that hard-right mouthpiece Slate.

    (I don’t think environmentalists want to kill us all. But a few don’t seem to mind the idea too much.)

  15. Can someone point me in the direction of the 5Ws on the food crisis? Are there riots right now? Are there confirmed hunger deaths directly attributed to the increase in price?

    Forgive me if I sound like a dick, but the number of manufactured scandals (ZOMG Alar!…Anorexia!…Autism!…ADD!) makes me skeptical as to the severity and scope of this “crisis”

  16. Yeah, I think it’s swell that people are overcoming irrational fears of genetic engineering, too. I just don’t think it is wise or appropriate to measure that against the cost in human life of the current situation.

    The current deplorable situation is undeniably exacerbated by the irrational fear of GM grains.

    Similat to the envioronmentalist crusade against nuclear power which has led to increased C02 emissions (Coal fired electric plants are responsible for ~40% of US emissions, the ignorant wing of the environmental movement has created more harm than good here.

    It’s frustrating to be a rational environmentalist.

  17. we’re far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain

    I’m confused. Aren’t we supposed to drown from global warming first?

  18. Elemenope, please take a look at the entire article. It isn’t as “golly gee” as the last few paragraphs taken out of context.

    Fair point, but I wasn’t criticizing the article so much as Reason‘s coverage of it. See above, (10:41): “leave it to Reason to find…”

    But I think the silver lining talk is more the hand-rubbing glee most of us have at the thought of the GMO opponents actually have to advocate starving people to satisfy their technophobia.

    Also a fair point. It is fairly hard to criticize a person for having a little fun dancing upon the grave of silly eco-extremist arguments.

  19. Just pretend I actually closed the parentheses.

  20. TallDave,

    I believe the grain might be floating somehow.

  21. I do think we could phase out the ethanol subsidy. At current gas prices, ethanol is more than competitive.

    Anyways, hopefully this will all be moot soon as more and more cellulosic ethanol plants come online over the next 10 years.

  22. Forgive me if I sound like a dick, but the number of manufactured scandals (ZOMG Alar!…Anorexia!…Autism!…ADD!) makes me skeptical as to the severity and scope of this “crisis”

    For some reason the link tags are misbehaving, so:

    http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1717572,00.html

  23. People have also been dying of cold because oil is so expensive, which ethanol reduces the demand for.

    Yeah, ethanol has been doing a hell of a job bringing demand down the last few years.

    By the way, I have some real estate opportunities down here in Florida that would interest you…

  24. Al Gore is one of the most dangerous men in the US today.

  25. Yeah, ethanol has been doing a hell of a job bringing demand down the last few years.

    Are you saying ethanol is not a substitute for petroleum-derived gasoline?

    I have an Econ 101 textbook that might interest you.

  26. Al Gore is one of the most dangerous men in the US today.

    Especially when you factor in his expertise with exotic Asian weapons.

  27. Rice – a staple for billions of Asians – has soared to its highest price in 20 years

    So, the crisis is that food prices have reached 1988 levels? I don’t remember this being a crisis in 1988.

  28. In the poorest parts of Asia and Africa, officials hope that sky-high food prices might lift out of poverty small farmers who have barely scraped by on low crop prices – a hope that would get a big boost if the rich world agreed to cut agricultural subsidies in the current round of trade talks.

    That I heartily agree with. Unfortunately, protectionism seems to be in vogue at the moment, especially among Dems.

    The biggest problem with food aid programs is they destroy poor farmers by giving away their work for nothing. They should just hand out money instead, and let people buy food themselves.

  29. The rice “crises” is primarily caused by drought in Australia.

  30. TallDave, I believe Taktix is making the point that ethanol is not a widely-used substitute, thus it has little or no effect on the worldwide demand for oil.

  31. GMO is no silver bullet. There are many benefits to it, most of which are obvious, though the risks are not very well known. mostly anti-gmo is trumped up to be some kind of hippy/”dont play god” type deal. While there surely is an emelment of that, there are also some very real and very serious risks when dealing with GMOs.

    There are many intelligent anti-GMO arguments out there and it seems to me like these are not being addressed. I guess it’s easier to accuse someone of wanting more people to starve rather than debating the implications of loss of species variety…

    one example (from http://www.gardeners.com/GMO%20problems/5045,default,pg.html)

    “Witchgrass, a parasitic weed that feeds on the roots of cereals and legumes in Africa and destroys up to 40% of key food crops in these desperately hungry areas, is an interesting example. The tiny seeds of witchgrass can lay dormant for 20 years waiting for the natural chemicals emitted from host plant roots to arouse them. Each witchgrass plant can produce as many as 100,000 seeds, making it nearly impossible to eradicate. (It took nearly 40 years to stop a small outbreak in the Carolinas.) A GMO solution was conceived: create herbicide resistant cereal crops like sorghum and millet, which could be sprayed aggressively with a weed killer that would kill the witchgrass. An herbicide resistant sorghum was developed by Pioneer Seeds in the early 1990’s, but before it was introduced to the market a university plant geneticist showed that this new GMO sorghum readily hybridizes with Johnson grass (a noxious weed relative of sorghum). Had the herbicide resistant sorghum been released, it could have created a “super weed” incapable of being controlled with normal weed killers.”

  32. Welcome to the world of “YOU CAN’T WIN.”

    For years farmers have been complaining of stagnant or declining whole sale prices for commodity goods like corn, wheat, and rice.

    Now that the price is actually rising faster than inflation, for the first time in like forever, it’s all doom and gloom.

    Think about, in the long run this might be the best thing for poor farmers in the third world. High grain prices have the potential of lifting billions of people out of poverty. Suddenly inefficient grain producers who use to not be able to compete with american agribusiness are suddenly able to make a profit on their farm production.

    The only thing that needs to take place, is for a increase in the dollar amount of food aide. I think the US spends about 800 Million a year, in a 14 Trillion Dollar economy increasing this to 2 Billion would be a drop in the bucket. It would end the riots. Stabilize the markets and protect farmers who are finally making a profit.

    Regards

    Joe Dokes

  33. I have an Econ 101 textbook that might interest you.

    And I have a gas receipt that might interest you. You can clearly see on it that I paid $3.59 per gallon.

    If ethanol is bringing the demand for gasoline down, it should follow that the price should come down as well. It’s in that Econ 101 book you were talking about, probably in the first couple pages.

    Are you saying ethanol is not a substitute for petroleum-derived gasoline?

    A substitute? Yes. An equal substitute? No fucking way. Ethanol gets less miles per gallon than gasoline, so you actually get less energy out of the same given quantity of fuel. PROOF

    To get the same amount of energy, one must buy more ethanol-laden gasoline. So, in all actuality, it is making the demand rise.

    Hang on to your Econ 101 book, you may need to refer back to it…

  34. The only thing that needs to take place, is for a increase in the dollar amount of food aide…It would end the riots. Stabilize the markets and protect farmers who are finally making a profit.

    WTF? Are you for reals? you think that flooding those African and Asian markets with subsidized food is going to help protect the farmers’ new going concerns?

  35. The only thing that needs to take place, is for a increase in the dollar amount of food aide. I think the US spends about 800 Million a year, in a 14 Trillion Dollar economy increasing this to 2 Billion would be a drop in the bucket. It would end the riots. Stabilize the markets and protect farmers who are finally making a profit.

    As TallDave pointed out above, wouldn’t this tactic serve only to nuke those poor local farmers who were trying to find a market for their goods in the first place?

  36. No you provide the locals with money so they can buy local produce.

    Simply put the main reason that food is in such short supplies in many of these regions is because the dollar amount of food aide has stayed the same while food prices have tripled.

    Thus the shortage is a shortage of dollars not doughnuts.

    regards

    Joe

  37. which ethanol reduces the demand for.

    Not much, as it takes a lot of petro fuel to produce ethanol.

    Come on, anyone have the figures?

  38. Simply put the main reason that food is in such short supplies in many of these regions is because the dollar amount of food aide has stayed the same while food prices have tripled.

    No, that is not the main reason at all…I’ll bet you my next week’s paycheck on that.

    Unless, of course, you’re claiming that the only way to ever prevent food shortages is to increase aid which would mean that these countries are perpetually on the dole.

    in a 14 Trillion Dollar economy increasing this to 2 Billion would be a drop in the bucket.

    yeah, what’s a billion here or a billion there? you’re just going to make others pay for it anyway. If you want to increase food aid, dig down in the couch cushions and find that 2 billion yourself.

  39. No you provide the locals with money so they can buy local produce.

    That makes a little more sense, but I still fail to see how helicopter money can stabilize such a low volume economy, unless the grants are permanent (which would be bad).

    After all, if the amount of dollars flowing through the food market is not sustainable because it isn’t coming from labor wages or investments, wouldn’t the food market simply collapse again when the aid is withdrawn?

  40. Joe Dokes, great idea!

    we should apply that to other sectors. I don’t have enough money to buy a house, but there are plenty on the market. wouldn’t it be great if the government provided me with money, or made credit really easy to get, so that I could have a house?

  41. The rice “crises” is primarily caused by drought in Australia.

    Interesting. The drought in Australia broke last year. I wonder how long it will take for things to get back to normal.

  42. Speaking of siver lings, though, the drought in Australia had the effect of promoting things like water recycling and other conservation practices that may help the next time the cycle swings that way.

    It was still a tough go while they went through it.

  43. AR,

    It’s getting pretty bad. It’s not hype and people are dying over it.

    Food riots in Egypt.

    Food riots in Haiti.

    Effects on politics.

  44. The most lasting impact of biotechnology on the food supply may come not from something going wrong, but from all going right. My biggest fear is not that by accident we will set loose some genetically defective Andromeda strain. Given our past record in dealing with agriculture, we’re far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain.”

    Holy shit. That bastard really did say it. It’s not an urban legend as I was thinking it might be:

    Quote

  45. We are talking about a cycle that will probably take years to produce this silver lining. Meanwhile the 3rd world is doomed to go hungry.

  46. It was still a tough go while they went through it.

    The above is what happens to a (relatively) free market nation during a drought. Headlines like

    “Millions face Hunger!”,
    Food Crisis in _________*!
    Aid Urgently Needed in ________*!
    Malnurition Endemic in ________*!

    is what happens when “developing nation” dictatorships and socialist economies face a drought of equal severity.

    *Insert your favorite unfree, poverty stricken, corruptly ruled country here.

  47. Elemenope: Apparently you don’t realize that every silver lining has a DARK CLOUD. And it’s NOT as though I haven’t been covering that particular dark cloud.

  48. TallDave, I believe Taktix is making the point that ethanol is not a widely-used substitute, thus it has little or no effect on the worldwide demand for oil

    The entire country of Brazil import almost no oil because of ethanol. Do I need to pull out Zubrin’s book and cite the figures?

    Ethanol gets less miles per gallon than gasoline, so you actually get less energy out of the same given quantity of fuel.

    True, but not very relevant.

    To get the same amount of energy, one must buy more ethanol-laden gasoline. So, in all actuality, it is making the demand rise.

    If ethanol were more expensive than gasoline, it would be a net loss. Since that’s not the case, it must be a net gain (yes even with subsidies taken out).

    It’s getting pretty bad. It’s not hype and people are dying over it.

    The problem is not crop prices. The problem is that people are very very poor due to criminally mismanaged economic policy in their countries.

  49. Do I need to pull out Zubrin’s book and cite the figures?

    By all means, please do.

  50. And it’s NOT as though I haven’t been covering that particular dark cloud.

    Fair enough. Criticism (mostly) retracted on that point.

  51. It was still a tough go while they went through it.

    The above is what happens to a (relatively) free market wealthy nation during a drought.

    Fixed.

  52. I went to the website that duderino provided. It’s the company website for Gardeners Supply Company, not exactly a credible resource for researching the adverse effects of GMOs. Seems like a decent enough company. Kind of hippieish, but a decent company. When I’ve gardened, I tried to avoid using chemical fertilizers which is kind of hippieish as well.

  53. Mo, aren’t free market nation and wealthy nation somewhat synonymous?

  54. When it comes to genetically modified food, I have one question. Harsh as it may sound, but without a rust of political correctness. You know, honest question.

    Why should I push Frankenfood through my throat, because people in Niger and Bangladesh were not wise enough to stop on two babies per woman?

    Why should I now share their responsibility?

    Ok, two questions.

    P.S.: Come out of your libertarian shell and dig for some research on the dangers of gmo – it’s science too! Or you now have a criteria for what is scientific and what is not?

  55. Why should I push Frankenfood through my throat…

    No one is forcing you to do anything. You don’t want GM food? Don’t buy it. Don’t deign to tell me what I can buy, however.

    Who are you to dictate what can be grown when you don’t even own the property?

  56. Come out of your libertarian shell and dig for some research on the dangers of gmo

    P.S. It’s incumbent on you to prove the danger (read: I’m not going to do the work for you), not the other way ’round.

  57. Is genetically modified food more dangerous than no food? Is it even within an order of magnitude more dangerous?

  58. The “Franken-” prefix makes every sentence in which it is used easily 10x as funny as without it. I personally prefer “Frankenbeans”, as it is more visually evocative than the more generic “Frankenfood”.

    That aside…

    Why should I push Frankenfood through my throat because people in Niger and Bangladesh were not wise enough to stop on two babies per woman?

    Uh, what? I thought the question was whether people in Niger and Bangladesh would be shoving Frankenbeans down their own throats. Not yours or mine.

    Come out of your libertarian shell and dig for some research on the dangers of gmo – it’s science too! Or you now have a criteria for what is scientific and what is not?

    All technologies are dangerous when misused…sometimes even when they are used properly. Why, the inventions of pen and paper together have probably killed more people in human history than any other. To say nothing of gunpowder, for those who are more literally minded; does this mean that we should never have allowed the production of gunpowder?

  59. Who are you to dictate what can be grown when you don’t even own the property?

    Not for nothing, A_R, but one can have a legitimate interest in restricting what is done on or with someone else’s property. Do you believe that if your next-door neighbor were building an Atomic Bomb, for example, you would have any legitimate interest in preventing its production?

    That’s not to say that GMO would be even close to having the same danger profile as a next-door nuclear weapon. Still, the effects could be wider than intended, and those effects can be visited upon those whose property and choice were not a factor in the original act.

  60. Ayn_Randian,

    how am I going to tell gm-food, if US are so a democracy that it doesn’t label food according to its contents, ah? Also – you are all about science, have you heard about genetic contamination? Organic food can turn genetically modified figuratively overnight.

    As for dangers… actually, I don’t care if you’re enlightened or naively believe whatever Ron Bailey tells you (by the way, for a true critical mind there is no such thing as unquestionable authority). I’m just trying to say that I would be more comfortable to consider gm-food dangerous and then, when science is completely settled, to find out that I’m wrong than the other way round.

  61. Ayn,

    Here’s Zubrin’s statement in an interview (don’t have the book around atm):

    We can’t replace oil with corn ethanol alone. Corn ethanol has replaced 4% of our gasoline supply, which is an impressive achievement, and it might be able to replace 8%. But certainly not 100%.

    4% of the U.S. market is pretty big.

    I’m curious, would anyone also argue Brazil should stop using ethanol and use gasoline instead (which they could actually do, having flex-fueled cars)? We could instantly reduce the price of sugar that way.

  62. Is genetically modified food more dangerous than no food?

    Only if it’s eating you.

  63. Are you saying ethanol is not a substitute for petroleum-derived gasoline?

    It’s not a good substitute, based on either production costs or as a store of energy.

  64. F.Nevis, I believe it is perfectly legal for producers in the USA to label their products “GMO-free”, “organic”, “preservative-free” or practically anything they want to appeal to market segments. I see such labels all the time, but my favorite is “chemical-free”. Yessiree, pure spiritual matter in that stuff.

    Of course such terms are purely marketing ploys with no more objective meaning that the dairy ad I remember from the 60s which claimed that their milk “came from contented cows”.

    Looks like you’re new, but you’ll find that most of the folks here are willing to leave you to whatever whackjob beliefs or practices you want as long as you don’t try to impose them on anyone else.

  65. I’m just trying to say that I would be more comfortable to consider gm-food dangerous

    The precautionary principle. Goody. Let’s do that with every new invention and breakthrough and see how far that gets us.

  66. As to your question, “how am I going to tell gm-food…?

    Simple. If you don’t see the words “GMO-free” or something similar on the package, assume it’s not.

    Because you can be sure that any farmer who isn’t interested in a niche market of superstitious folks like you has gone GM.

  67. The precautionary principle. Goody. Let’s do that with every new invention and breakthrough and see how far that gets us.

    It’s not a no-brainer. That would be otherwise.

    Besides, what’s wrong with traditional food?

    Looks like you’re new, but you’ll find that most of the folks here are willing to leave you to whatever whackjob beliefs or practices you want as long as you don’t try to impose them on anyone else.

    🙂 I know. Libertarianism has evolved to its ugliest forms.

  68. Leave it to Reason to find the silver lining in starvation and food riots.

    I think this comes close enough to a drinking rules comment for TWC to take a sip.

  69. J sub D

    Mo, aren’t free market nation and wealthy nation somewhat synonymous?

    Not quite, but it’s (usually) a pretty good correlation. For a counterexample, look at Estonia (along with many other Eastern European countries). At the same time, look at, for example, the Scandinavian countries that are less free-market but are much richer.

  70. Besides, what’s wrong with traditional food?

    It requires more farmland to produce an equal amount of food, because larger portions of organic crops are lost to insects, disease, etc. than the equivalent gm crop.

    All in all, this hysteria against Frankenbeans (thanks, LMNOP!) kinda reminds me of the ol’ “TV will rot your brain” line…

  71. I think this comes close enough to a drinking rules comment for TWC to take a sip.

    Why him? I’m the one who wrote it.

  72. Mo, aren’t free market nation and wealthy nation somewhat synonymous?

    There’s a strong correlation, but it’s not one-to-one. The Gulf States aren’t free market. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and UAE can do just fine in a drought. India is relatively free-market and a weak harvest would devastate them.

  73. It requires more farmland to produce an equal amount of food, because larger portions of organic crops are lost to insects, disease, etc. than the equivalent gm crop.

    Then look to the roots. The problem is not with food. Food is good. It just can’t supply all those additional 70 mil. people coming every year.

    We are overpopulated. That’s the sickness of the world. Food prices are only symptoms of it.

    Tackle overpopulation and live happily eating non-gm food. And many more advantages: pandas, arctic, human dignity, peace, diversity, prosperity, ethics, etc.

  74. You guys covered the Gore comment pretty well. All I can add is that Mr. Gore is the joke that keeps on giving.

  75. Incidentally, I agree with caution, but I don’t agree with caution to the point of inaction if there’s no good reason. The hysteria over GM foods and the real danger presented by them have little in common. I’m more worried that we’ll end up with a Chicken Little effect, where real risks are not taken seriously because of the outcry over nonexistent risks.

    As for fuels, I think a market move to electric is likely if the technology keeps advancing and oil prices stay high. The advantage of electric is that we can use any number of energy sources to generate the electricity.

  76. Ok, all you ‘Frankencorn’ haters, do we need to take thatr entire crop off the market now? Every dang bit of it in the modern world is the result of genetic modification.

  77. As for fuels, I think a market move to electric is likely if the technology keeps advancing and oil prices stay high. The advantage of electric is that we can use any number of energy sources to generate the electricity.

    We can use a lot of them in cars without going through the steam turbine/electrical plant steps too. Like grasses, wood, coal, seal oil, whale oil, etc. . . .

  78. Jesus Christ, Guy! Be quiet! You’ll start a panic, and eco-loons will begin running amok and stampeding through our corn stocks.

    How dare you jeopardize my popcorn!

  79. Can someone point me in the direction of the 5Ws on the food crisis? Are there riots right now? Are there confirmed hunger deaths directly attributed to the increase in price?

    Fidel Castro made a complaint and shook his fist at us about this. No more evidence is needed for the Leftist MSM types and their followers.

    Oh, on that whole rice price “problem”, was it here or elsewhere that I read recently that it is due to bad weather in Vietnam this year and they can not export as much as usual?

    Sorry if the above was already covered, I have not had a chance to read all comments.

  80. GUy,

    Sure but electric makes more sense, long term. Until then, I’m running my car on olive oil.

    Of course, some of us are holding out for Mr. Fusion.

  81. Food is good. It just can’t supply all those additional 70 mil. people coming every year.

    We are overpopulated. That’s the sickness of the world. Food prices are only symptoms of it.

    You’ve convinced me. Let’s strategize on how to keep 70 million of those filthy brown people from being born next year.

    I urge everyone here to donate to the Pioneer Fund in Nevis’ name.

  82. Tackle overpopulation and live happily eating non-gm food. And many more advantages: pandas, arctic, human dignity, peace, diversity, prosperity, ethics, etc.

    You know, if some of those excess people were actually fed to the starving people, that would solve everything.

  83. Think about, in the long run this might be the best thing for poor farmers in the third world.

    You mean like in Afghanistan?

    Financial Times
    April 24, 2008

    Afghan Farmers Turn Away From Opium

    By Jon Boone and Stephen Fidler

    Could be bad for the folks who want to keep that opium firehose open. Maybe Mr. Gore can complain about that next?

  84. You know, if some of those excess people were actually fed to the starving people, that would solve everything.

    From a modest proposal to a final solution?

  85. OK, lemme’ get this strait.

    You think we should start dictating baby production so you can live in your organic fantasy world? Two problems:

    1) It is immoral on an unimaginable scale.
    2) It will never actually work.

    People like to fuck, and there’s nothing a aspiring teapot dictator like yourself could do about it…

  86. The entire country of Brazil import almost no oil because of ethanol. Do I need to pull out Zubrin’s book and cite the figures?

    Actually, their announcement that they had become “energy independant” in the last year or two came as the preamble to their announcment of opening another oil well, not the opening of another distillery or anything of the sort.

    At that time they no longer had to import *any* more oil. Far as I know, they still don’t have to.

  87. Taktix?,

    I like Mr. Swift’s proposal better. Let’s begin pilot projects in ireland and france, with the British and German scientists monitoring the progress.

  88. It’s not a good substitute, based on either production costs or as a store of energy.

    Sure: by some estimates, Saudi oil costs less than $5/barrel to produce. But production cost doesn’t mean much to us, since we have to pay $100+ for it.

    Ethanol only has about 70% as much energy as gasoline, but if it can be produced for half as much as it’s still economically sensible. That’s why all those ethanol refineries are going up across the Midwest.

  89. Tackle overpopulation and live happily eating non-gm food. And many more advantages: pandas, arctic, human dignity, peace, diversity, prosperity, ethics, etc.

    (!)

  90. Taktix?,

    Ah, but you forget that the market will solve the overpopulation problem in the medium term. Full-immersion, full-sensory input Virtual Salma Hayek (or functional equivalent). The birth rate will decline precipitously once this technology become ubiquitous.

  91. TallDave,

    Where do you plan on getting the energy to distill the ethanol out of the mash? BTW, wherever you are getting it you are at a net energy loss already and better off using that energy source directly instead of wasting it on ethanol.

  92. Guy

    Yah, they’ve made pretty good progress though.

    Presently the use of ethanol as fuel by Brazilian cars – as pure ethanol and in gasohol – replaces gasoline at the rate of about 27,000 cubic metres per day, or about 40% of the fuel that would be needed to run the fleet on gasoline alone

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethanol_fuel_in_Brazil

  93. TallDave,

    If they would just look to the big giant ocean right next door they could cover the other 60% with cheap, organic, renewable, free-range (running out of enviroLeftie codewords energy.

  94. Where do you plan on getting the energy to distill the ethanol out of the mash? BTW, wherever you are getting it you are at a net energy loss already and better off using that energy source directly instead of wasting it on ethanol.

    It’s generally accepted that corn ethanol can be produced at an energy gain of about 34% and cellulosic ethanol is supposed to be much higher.

    In any case, the energy argument is a red herring. Economics is the real issue.

    It wouldn’t matter if it was an energy loss, as long you could use cheaper forms of energy (like coal) to produce it, such that the the process produced a product that could be sold for more than the production cost.

    Why is gasoline so much more expensive than coal on a per-joule basis? Because the energy in coal is bound in a less useful way.

  95. TallDave,

    I am not buying that efficiency theory (on ethanol) because it isn’t happening.

    However, I am serious about building a steam powered car some day!

  96. BTW, if I ran a car on an efficient coal engine I would be beating the crap out of the total system eficiency of any ethanol or plug-to-the-grid electric vehicle existing in the USA today.

  97. That’s why all those ethanol refineries are going up across the Midwest.

    Why, again? Considering how tightly intertwined agriculuture subsidies and ethanol subsidies are, and how eager politicians at the state and local level are to throw tax breaks and any other incentive they can conjure up at ethanol distillers, I don’t believe anybody has a clear idea of the *true* cost (in dollars) of a gallon of ethanol.

    Producing ethanol requires a lot of energy input, and lots of water (another resource with a highly distorted cost). The net energy gain from ethanol is a topic of some dispute.

  98. Where are all the Stanley Steamers?

    Could it be that petroleum is so much more efficient as a store of energy that it ran the steam cars (and electric cars, and whale-oil cars) right out of the market?

  99. We are overpopulated. That’s the sickness of the world.

    GOOD OBSERVATION.

    WE SHALL START THE DEPOPULATION INITIATIVE WITH YOU.

    WE HAVE SPOKEN.

  100. How’s the sabre-tooth tiger dna project coming? That’s the answer to overpopulation. Nothing says “human dignity” like giant man-eating cats.

  101. Could it be that petroleum is so much more efficient as a store of energy that it ran the steam cars (and electric cars, and whale-oil cars) right out of the market?

    Yes, but I roll old school, brother.

  102. If we could just bring back the wooly mammoth, yes, then I could have the coolest convertable top AND interior to go with my fuel.

    Going to have to stick with seals for now, untill I have the funding for Mr. Bailey to do that mammoth dna revival project.

  103. However, I am serious about building a steam powered car some day!

    Heh. Could be the wave of the future, if oil keeps going up.

    Where are all the Stanley Steamers?

    Internal combustion engines took over the market for a variety of reasons, including ease of distribution, energy per volume in gas, and ease of operation.

  104. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_combustion_engine

    Internal combustion engines are most commonly used for mobile propulsion in automobiles, equipment, and other portable machinery. In mobile equipment, internal combustion is advantageous, since it can provide high power-to-weight ratios together with excellent fuel energy-density. These engines have appeared in transport in almost all automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, boats, and in a wide variety of aircraft and locomotives, generally using petroleum (called All-Petroleum Internal Combustion Engine Vehicles or APICEVs). Where very high power is required, such as jet aircraft, helicopters and large ships, they appear mostly in the form of turbines.

    They are also used for electric generators (i.e., 12V generators) and by industry.

  105. TallDave,

    That post of yours reminds me of another project-of-the-future? of mine: Honda generator powered Segway!

  106. Two-stroke bar stools will revolutionize personal transportation.

    And emergency room medicine.

  107. Elemenope,

    I don’t disagree with you. It is in bad taste.

    It’s in bad taste because it’s boneheaded for free marketers to play up the GM angle instead of the overall market restrictions that are causing the problem in the first place. Even if every single country accepted GM crops as the equal of non GM-crops, you’d still be left with a dizzying array of export restrictions, land-use restrictions, and government hoarding that is taking place. As mentioned above, prices were going up because of a bad crop in Australia. Which triggered all kinds of protectionist reactions from Asian governments which made prices go up even more.

  108. Ok, all you ‘Frankencorn’ haters, do we need to take thatr entire crop off the market now? Every dang bit of it in the modern world is the result of genetic modification.

    I agree that freaking out about geneticcally modified foods is overdone, however, this argument is one of the weaker ones. Selective breeding doesn’t make the huge jumps in one generation, like you can do in a lab. Plus, crossing with another species is significantly harder, let alone crossing genes with another kingdom, which is a cake walk. There are significantly more unknowns in a lab. Plus, comparing thousands of years of experience in agriculture to thousands of days experience in genetic engineering is silly. Comparing the two is like saying, “Why are you so careful when walking through a pitch black cave? You do it all the time in your room.”

    The reason why Brazilian the ethanol industry is working is because getting ethanol from sugar cane is more energy efficient, so you get energy. Theoretically, you could eventually run the Brazilian ethanol industry on the ethanol produced (just like one of the early uses of coal was pumping water out of coal mines and transporting coal).

  109. I think this comes close enough to a drinking rules comment for TWC to take a sip.

    LMNOP — Why him? I’m the one who wrote it.

    Hey, if you recognize that your comment violated the drinking rules, free take to take a swig, too. Maybe your comments will make more sense if you’re thoroughly inebriated.

  110. “Given our past record in dealing with agriculture, we’re far more likely to accidentally drown ourselves in a sea of excess grain.”

    Wow – Al Gore has given me the only laugh I’ve had all day. He’s good for something after all.

  111. Latest tally for this thread:

    comments commenter
    15 Guy Montag
    11 Elemenope
    9 Ayn_Randian
    8 TallDave
    7 TallDave
    6 SugarFree
    6 J sub D
    6 P Brooks
    5 Taktix®
    4 Mo
    4 F.Nevis
    4 Pro Libertate
    4 Isaac Bartram

  112. Latest tally for this thread:

    Have you got a tally for the Chicago gun control thread, Rimfax? I’m curious if Joe has more than forty per cent of the total insults comments.

  113. Look at the link and do it myself?

    What’s the fun in that?

  114. Gore was being honest for once. Like many environmentalists, he hates humans. Anything that could enable more humans must be stopped.

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