Iowa Senator: Ethanol Over Food Worries "A Big Joke"
Speaking to The New York Times, Republican Senator Charles E Grassley made no secret of his contempt for "foreign officials" at a Washington conference on food prices. Grassley says biofuels are not to blame for recent food price spikes and the resulting political instability (e.g. Haiti's riots). "He questioned why they were not also blaming a drought in Australia that reduced the wheat crop and the growing demand for meat in China and India. 'You make ethanol out of corn,' he said. 'I bet if I set a bushel of corn in front of any of those delegates, not one of them would eat it.' Equally unsurprising (if slightly more conciliatory), the president of The National Corn Grower's Association says ethanol production has a minor impact on food prices and supply. "There’s no question that they are a factor," admits Ron Litterr. "But they are really a smaller factor than other things that are driving up prices." Yes, well, the Old Gray Lady reports that "a fifth of the nation’s corn crop is now used to brew ethanol for motor fuel, and as farmers have planted more corn, they have cut acreage of other crops, particularly soybeans. That, in turn, has contributed to a global shortfall of cooking oil." So ethanol might not be "the" problem, but it's "a" problem. And that's going to get… better?
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