2.Ethanol - a cautionary tale
EXTRACT: In short, the story of ethanol is a cautionary tale of the unintended and costly consequences that can arise when the interests of politicians and influential industries collide... (item 2)
NOTE: Ethanol was hyped as a silver bullet for U.S. fuel sovereignty based on domestic renewables (item 2). Instead, it's turned out to be a key contributor to higher food prices in the world's poorest countries.
A World Bank report concluded that 75% of global food price inflation was down to the policy of growing food for fuel. And Monsanto has been at the very heart of the ethanol lobby, even jointly launching a recent multi-million dollar effort to defend the ethanol mandates after it had become plain that the ethanol boom had helped trigger a global food crisis.
But then why wouldn't it? Monsanto has profited enormously out of the boom and the skyrocketing of food price inflation, while using the crisis as a PR opportunity to promote GM foods!
1.Re: Organic farming 'could feed Africa'
The Independent, 22 October 2008
COMMENT by the Soil Association:
The study by UNEP that 'the potential contribution of organic farming to feeding the world may be far higher than many had supposed' confirms a gathering body of scientific evidence.
Danish research presented at the UN's 'Organic Agriculture and Food Security' conference in May 2007 showed that a shift to organic farming in sub-Saharan Africa could help the region's hungry, leading the Assistant Director-General of the Food & Agriculture Organisation to acknowledge that, 'a shift to organic could be beneficial'.
The more recent report of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science & Technology for Development (IAASTD) published this April and the product of 400 scientists globally concluded that, 'Business as usual is no longer an option' - instead favouring an 'agroecological approach', in which it included organic farming. IAASTD's questioning of the benefits of transgenic GM crops and greater enthusiasm for organic farming caused GM giant Syngenta to storm out of the process.
The real proof of organic farming's relevance and effectiveness is in the words of those practising it in Africa, such as Dr Tewolde Berhan Gebre Egziabher,
"Some organic detractors argue that only industrialised agriculture can feed the world. Our research and farming experience in Northern Ethiopia shows that you can actually achieve high yields using a combination of composting and traditional agricultural techniques. I believe that organic farming is the way forward for developing countries because it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, sustains rural employment, supports long-term food security and protects soil fertility."
2.From hope to husk
By Kevin Allison and Stephanie Kirchgaessner
Financial Times, October 22 2008 [extract only]
It was an American dream that has failed to become a reality. For much of the last decade, enthusiasts from President George W. Bush down have touted corn-based ethanol as something approaching a superfuel, a home-grown alternative to foreign oil that would help cut smog and bring hope to struggling farmers.
It has not worked out that way. Instead, the ethanol industry has undergone a great boom and bust in which a Financial Times analysis has found investors as savvy as Bill Gates, Microsoft's founder, have collectively lost billions of dollars.
Despite the billions more in taxpayers' dollars that was spent to subsidise it, ethanol now eats up nearly one-quarter of the US corn crop without so far fulfilling the hopes held for its beneficial effect either on the environment or US dependence on foreign energy.
It may have helped keep gasoline prices lower in the world's wealthiest nation, but a growing band of influential critics say it has also contributed to higher food prices in the world's poorest countries. So far, the only sure beneficiaries from the ethanol promise have been the investors clever enough to get into the industry early and the corn farmers who have enjoyed a lucrative new market for their grain.
In short, the story of ethanol is a cautionary tale of the unintended and costly consequences that can arise when the interests of politicians and influential industries collide...