It would certainly be easy to write a post with this title about Barack Obama and his Wright problem. However, that’s not what I have in mind today. The image problem today belongs to ethanol and its “Wright problem,” rising food prices.
I noted here a Rasmussen Reports poll that showed 54% of those polled believed that the “push for alternative energy sources,” (read that: Ethanol) is impacting food prices. It appears that in spite of the impacts of public education the populace is beginning to figure out that 2+2 does in fact equal 4 and there is a growing unease with burning our food for fuel.
“Oh but that’s a national poll and barely over 50%,” you say. “It’s just some nasty group paying a polling company to get the desired results,” you say.
Wrong you are, “Increasing Cost of Tortillas Boy.”
In a story yesterday, the Star and Sickle picks up the story of increasing debate over ethanol and does something I rarely see them do on a topic that is loaded with Eco-sensitivities…they actually reported information!
Amongst other issues the author addresses:
- The difference in energy efficiency between ethanol and oil based “gas.”
- That many people wouldn’t buy ethanol if it wasn’t subsidized and priced $.50 a gallon below gas.
- That the growth of ethanol is largely driven by subsidies from both Federal and State levels and not by any market demand.
OK, they did counter the above by finding a corn grower who claimed that corn’s doubling in price was not driven by an imbalance of supply and demand but rather due to increased fuel costs. Really? Corn is up 100% and fuel is up around 50% so this guy has figured out how a one percent increase in fuel translates into a two percent increase in corn? OK, it’s still the Star and Sickle.
Minnesota is the fifth largest agricultural producing state. It is the fourth largest corn producing state and the fourth largest ethanol producing state. Suffice to say that corn is an important part of Minnesota’s economy and more than just farmers have ties to the success of corn in the state.
Attached to the online version of the Star and Sickle article was a poll. The question was “Do you think ethanol is responsible for higher food prices?” You could respond:
- Maybe a little
- Yes, very
- It’s too soon to tell
Granted it’s an Internet poll but as of 9 PM last evening, 79% of the respondents said that ethanol had some effect on higher food prices. 63% said ethanol had a very large impact on rising food prices.
If you can get that kind of response in an eco-sensitive, corn economy state like Minnesota, it’s clear that ethanol has a serious and growing image problem.