Putting Respectable Journalism on the Grocery List

By Mark Justice
Truth, Justice, and Eating Worms
June 2, 2009


In case you missed the news flash….the Wall Street Journal likes ethanol about as much as eating worms. They maintain a drumbeat of negative misinformation regarding our favorite renewable fuel despite yeoman like efforts by the National Corn Growers Association and many academics and scientists to educate them.

On any subject you can find a naysayer, some even with a reputable sounding job title. But when a preponderance of third-party, unbiased folks say you are off base that constitutes an agenda or at least bad judgment. Today’s opinion piece in the WSJ is a perfect case in point.

Ethanol is the right choice for America. It works, ask any Indy driver. It burns cleaner, ask any chemists, and it’s made here in the U.S. Hopefully, American jobs, 494,000 of them, and national security need no explanation. In a recent letter to the Governors’ Biofuels Coalition, President Obama noted improved energy efficiency combined with biofuels “is the primary near-term option for insulating consumers against future oil shocks and for lowering the transportation sector’s carbon footprint.”

Insinuating ethanol is a major factor in food prices is also plain silly. Last year’s high oil prices pushed up food prices. Remove the spin from the WSJ take on the Congressional Budget Office study and it says corn-based ethanol was responsible for only a fraction of food inflation between 2007 and 2008, representing 0.5 to 0.8 percentage points of the 5.1 percent food price increase.

The CBO report notes 85 to 90 percent of the increase in food prices over the measured period came from something other than corn and ethanol. Perhaps an enterprising journalist should be asking why food prices have not declined despite plenty of cheap corn and drastically lower oil prices.

While our reliance on foreign oil is sucking the life’s blood out of our economy, ethanol generated $11.9 billion in tax revenue for the federal government and an additional $9 billion for state and local governments. Makes the government incentives for ethanol production seem like a sound investment.

Record production is good news. Yield increases alone are meeting our needs for ethanol. We should be embracing the productivity gains made possible through technology and innovation on the nation’s farms. Corn yields in the United States have doubled over the last 30 years, and will double again in the next 20 years. It’s not about food or fuel, but both.

Trying to make a tenuous connection between U.S. ethanol production and land use choices overseas in places like Brazil is also counterproductive. Anyone who has studied the issue will tell you clearing of land in South America is about pure economics and is fueled by efforts to transfer land to the poor as a social program, petro dollars, or timber and mining profits.

Until thought leaders, like the news media, begin to understand this, the rainforests will remain at risk, and we will continue to hold back the ethanol industry in the U.S. which has real environmental contributions to make. The vast majority of Americans understands this and survey after survey show they support alternative fuel sources like ethanol.

Source: http://corncommentary.com/2009/06/02/putting-respectable-journalism-on-the-grocery-list/

March 17, 2010 1:55 PM
On the road to North Platte, Shooters tonite! Happy St Pattys Day!