The Fallacy of Biofuels and GM Crops

Here is a subject I might know a little about, farming.

I grew up on a dairy farm in the 1960s and 1970s. I saw a lot of changes during that time, tractors getting larger, haying and grain equipment getting larger and cows getting larger.

See the pattern here?

But my Dad didn’t believe in that philosophy. Mainly because he couldn’t handle a business worth a shit, but some of what we did at that time had wisdom to it. Like breeding a first calf holstein heifer with a small breed like a Jersey so the calf wouldn’t be so big and cripple the heifer while she was giving birth. Or saving some of the previous harvests seed, like corn, oats or winter wheat for planting the next year. People call that ‘organic farming’ now, but back then it was SOP.

Let’s take a look at organic farming for instance. To be certified ‘organic’, a farmer must prove that he/she hasn’t used any kind of chemical or artificial hormone on their livestock and feedstock for three years. Any and all seed must be of the heritage variety, no Monsanto, Dow Chemical or Bayer GM crap at all. And that’s a tall order now because these corporations have the seed market monopolized to the point where almost all farmers if they want to plant any crop, they have to use the dangerous GM stuff.

I have four cousins who farm organically, one has done it for twenty years. There’s a market for it and the prices are high for organic commodities, thus they are able to make pretty decent livings from it despite the planned destruction of the family farm. Amish communities in Pennsylvania have been able to make good livings from classical farming methods for over three hundred years. It’s only been during the past twenty years they’ve had difficulties because their young people are leaving for the big city and corporate farms buying up all the good cropland.

It is because of these corporate farms and the massive government subsidies they receive for growing corn for ‘biofuel’ that the current world food crisis is occurring now.

And guess who’s in the thick of the biofuel debate now? That’s right, Barack Obama, Democratic Party Presidential candidate:

When VeraSun Energy inaugurated a new ethanol processing plant last summer in Charles City, Iowa, some of that industry’s most prominent boosters showed up. Leaders of the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association, for instance, came to help cut the ribbon — and so did Senator Barack Obama.

Then running far behind Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton in name recognition and in the polls, Mr. Obama was in the midst of a campaign swing through the state where he would eventually register his first caucus victory. And as befits a senator from Illinois, the country’s second largest corn-producing state, he delivered a ringing endorsement of ethanol as an alternative fuel.

Mr. Obama is running as a reformer who is seeking to reduce the influence of special interests. But like any other politician, he has powerful constituencies that help shape his views. And when it comes to domestic ethanol, almost all of which is made from corn, he also has advisers and prominent supporters with close ties to the industry at a time when energy policy is a point of sharp contrast between the parties and their presidential candidates.

In the heart of the Corn Belt that August day, Mr. Obama argued that embracing ethanol “ultimately helps our national security, because right now we’re sending billions of dollars to some of the most hostile nations on earth.” America’s oil dependence, he added, “makes it more difficult for us to shape a foreign policy that is intelligent and is creating security for the long term.”

Mr. Obama very noticably declines to mention the issue of the subsidies. It is a well known fact that Obama’s home state Iowa is the second largest producer of corn in the U.S. and Obama of course would be remiss if he left his clientel hanging should he be selected to be President.

So how does the world feel about corn being diverted from food to fuel production? Well, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) makes a token attempt to protest biofuel subsidies in the U.S. and Brazil:

As was widely expected, the U.S. and Brazil’s biofuel programs came under heavy criticism at the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) food crisis meeting yesterday in Rome. Jacques Diouf, its head, reserved most of his reprobation for the U.S.’s billions of corn ethanol subsidies (roughly $12b in 2006), which he said were depriving developing countries of food, reports The Guardian‘s Julian Borger.

He accused the U.S. of diverting close to 100 million tons of cereals from human consumption to “satisfy a thirst for fuel for vehicles.” Officials from U.S., Canadian and European biofuel industries had written to Diouf prior to the summit to warn him not to lash out against biofuels — advice he clearly (and rightly) chose to disregard. Ed Schafer, the U.S. agriculture secretary, tried to deflect blame from the ethanol subsidies, claiming biofuel production only accounted for 2 – 3% of the rise in food prices.

By comparison, the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) research estimates that it has accounted for 20 – 30% of the price increases over the last 2 years. For its part, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) believes that biofuels caused nearly 60% of the increase in the consumption of cereals and vegetable oils between 2005 and 2007.

Schafer also tried to peddle the canard that corn ethanol was an “efficient producer of energy,” despite mountains of evidence to the contrary (see this post about the significant land-use concerns).

Please note that although Brazil subsidizes their biofuel industry, they use cellulose from switchgrass to turn into alcohol fuel, which isn’t food to begin with. But wholesale clearing of rainforest to grow it is a big issue. Thus this has ecological impact as well.

So what to do? Well, quit giving corporate welfare to mega-farms for one thing. But campaign coffers are filled by corporate PAC money and Monsanto is a big player here. Not only that, Monsanto gengineers the seed for the ethanol:

No doubt Monsanto plans to come up with new, “improved” corn seed products that will target new, improved pests, and will be able to resist new, improved herbicides. That is the treadmill that the human race has put itself on, and whether we’ll ever be able to get off of it seems a highly doubtful proposition, unless food prices rise so high that biofuels become politically impossible. But that dreary quagmire is not the point of this post.

For some time, How the World Works has been convinced that the rush to biofuels will significantly boost the ongoing rollout of genetically modified organisms. There’s just too much money at stake in the energy business for it to be otherwise. The popularity of the latest biotech crops is a perfect illustration of this. These seeds aren’t cheap — they are top-of-the-line products. But for well-financed farmers and industrial-scale agribusinesses aiming to cash in on ethanol demand, seed costs are not a significant barrier. It seems reasonable to expect, in the not-too-distant future, quadruple- and quintuple- and sextuple-stacked hybrids that do all kinds of fancy things such as incorporate herbicide resistance, targeted pesticides, and modifications that make the corn cheaper and easier to industrially transform into ethanol

So there it is in a nutshell. Or a GM corn kernal anyway. Follow the money and you will find how the world works. I have to hand it to the mega-corps though, they have managed to ‘collectivize’ farming to the point that would’ve made the old U.S.S.R. blanch. Or bow down to them.

Well, the U.S. is due for a round of neoliberal corporate communism anyhow and the ‘green technology’ field is slated to be the next big bubble economic powerhouse. And corporate GM corn for biofuels plays a big part in it. Plus picking the wallets of the slaves to pay for it just sweetens the pot even more for these assholes.

Also, don’t expect this to create any middle-class jobs for American citizens, most of the machinery that agribusinesses use are automated, even the tractors.

And there are plenty of illegal immigrants willing to work for three dollars an hour to monitor the equipment!

Obama Camp Closely Linked With Ethanol

FAO Takes on Biofuel Subsidies, U.S. Claims 2020 Climate Targets “Unachievable”

Why Monsanto loves ethanol 

9 responses

  1. The Highwayman | Reply

    The pseudo-society of the rich is upon us. When everyone is on the dole and fully dependent upon government services and resources, the trap will be shut. The Middle Class represent the last bastion of independence. The poor have always had nothing, and can work for next to nothing, but the Middle Class aren’t used to anything but the good life, and will find life extremely difficult in the NWO.

    So, they are easily sucked in by anyone that comes along talking big and making promises, even if it’s the same old line, generation after generation. Obama is the heartthrob of the Liberal crowd, but his shtick is no different from anyone else’s. I guess the ostrich syndrome has merit when you’re desperate. I’ll never be so desperate as to fall for something so damned obvious and blatant.

    Yes, the bio-fuel craze is here in Canada, too, but the feelings toward it in my area are lukewarm. Some of us are on to the machinations of big business, but for every one of us, there is four of them. The credit-crazed, self-serving land barons with $$$ signs in their eyes.

    The wagon lost it’s horses long ago, and is racing headlong down the mountain. There’s no stopping it now.

  2. Yeah, but the trouble is since the corporations are the government, the only ‘dole’ handed out will be to themselves.

    This isn’t classical socialism or communism, we’re facing corporate fascism that has the sheeple brainwashed into thinking they represent “free enterprise”. These assholes own the government and the institutions. Corporatism is the new socialism.

    Nothing will be handed out to us, at least not here. People will be living in cardboard houses, tents, cars and squatting in old buildings even more than they already are.

    People will be stealing food and the jackboots will be out to collect them up and ship them to more new prisons. There the healthy ones will be forced into literal slavery while the sick will be given a slow, painful death. Unless they have a useful skill the elite can exploit, so they might get medical help and allowed to live a little longer.

    This will be Nazi Germany on a grand scale more than the old USSR.

  3. Hi dad2059 et al. …

    Worse yet our government is halting all solar energy projects until they can do an environmental impact study…say what?!

    Visualize vast regions of the sun-drenched West with quiet solar panels using the latest in nanotechnology for highly efficient cell density concentration mounted on azimuthal tracking platforms in the desert.

    Once constructed the cacti, lizards, bugs, jackrabbits and whatever else resides below the panels continue to live life as usual except now they have a little more shade from the structures.

    Instead, our inefficient, joined at the hips with NWO crowd with their minions in the MIC, the “oil patch” decide to put a halt of the development of “free” solar energy farms when we are in the midst of a great “oil resource” pricing shakedown.

    Sounds to me that we are being “f**ked” bigtime…! : |

    Ethanol is one of the biggest boondoggles of all time. Solar energy is where it’s at so it tells me that this is definitely all part of a plan to squeeze “we the people” of the U.S. and world at large until we collectively shout “uncle” and submit.

    Here’s the link concerning the solar energy moratorium.

    Needless to say I’m depressed since I am a fierce proponent of generating a goodly sum of our power needs from solar energy.

    The “oil guys” have us all by the “shorthairs” to say the least.

    Damn, damn to the 100th power. I have a visceral disgust and hatred for these greedy mattoids that are destroying “our” planet earth…!

    Carl Nemo **==

  4. I hear ya Carl. The Oiligarchs surely have us by the hair of the arse and shaking us down for our last pennies.

    Highwayman is right in one sense, the corporate masters, whether they be banksters, oiligarchs, Monsanto or whatever, their goal is to snatch up every asset the private citizenry has in order to enslave us into the Corporate New World Order. In that sense it’s a form of Communism, but of a more fascist, Mussolini style.

    Think of the old Tennessee Ernie Ford (Merle Travis) song “16 Tons”, only on a national, or continental scale.

    You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?

    Another day older and deeper in debt

    St. Peter don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go

    I owe my soul to the company store

  5. Whoah’ this is indeed the news in a nut shell. There isn’t much I can add to this excellent commentary on the sad state of world affairs today, except to say that I believe that way more folks (the silent majority) are aware of the situation than we really know about.

    The only thing that I can compare these corporate crooks to is an immature kid that pulls the legs off of a spider so that it can’t get away from the ants, and the only difference I can see is that the child sometimes grows up to be a loving and caring human being…G:

  6. ………..zzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZZZ*

  7. Corrinne Novak | Reply

    Got in one. GMO crops, no organic allowed. Use Animal and Plant ID, Premises ID and forfeiture laws to force the middle class off the land and use the illegals to farm it.

    “[In Iraq] under the new US Order 81 Ref #9 on “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety”], the saving and planting of seeds will be illegal and market will only offer plant material produced by transactional agribusiness corporations. The US Order introduces a system of private monopoly rights over seeds and will force Iraqi farmers to relay on big US corporations to buy its yearly crop seeds for planting. The term of the monopoly is 20 years for crop varieties and 25 for trees and vines. During this time the protected variety de facto becomes the property of the breeder, and nobody can plant or otherwise use this variety without compensating the breeder.”

    “…In Iraq,.. one of the very first acts of.. L. Paul Brenner was to issue…Order 81 criminalizing the possession of native seeds. The U.S. military spread out throughout the land distributing little packets of GMO seeds.. To make sure that Iraq would no longer have a native agriculture, the national seed bank, located at Abu Ghraib, was looted and set afire….”

    Click to access 20040426_CPAORD_81_Patents_Law.pdf

    I wish the Sheeple would wake -up and see what is happenning.

  8. Thanks Corrinee Novak for the links and their associated content.

    It just proves how far these evil, NWO mattoids are pressing for control of planet earth.

    Since the U.S. can’t even prevail militarily in Iraq and it’s just a matter of time before we slink off as a disgraced nation in terms of what we’ve done to these people with our military uber intervention; I’m sure anything signed by L. Paul Brenner et al. will simply be ignored. Unless we have a gun pointed directly at someone’s head, people in these neolithic regions have no serious inclination to obey laws of this nature like most conditioned sheep as we find in the West as in the Eurozone, the U.S. and Canada. They’l simply go back to saving seed from the previous years crops as they’ve done for thousands of years.

    In fact I give the people of Iraq and Afghanistan an A+ in their efforts to resist Western intervention. Whether people in America and elsewhere in the West will be able to do as well resisting tyranny based military and police force used upon them is debatable.

    Carl Nemo **==

  9. solutions are fun to work with, more fun than staying in the depths of our sorry situation. thanks for this post.
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