As riots over food shortages are breaking out in Haiti, Egypt and other parts of Africa, the media are looking for a culprit. ABC’s April 10 “World News with Charles Gibson” identified one culprit of this global strife: biofuels.
“[P]rices are rising across Africa, pushed up by the cost of oil and demand for biofuels,” ABC correspondent Jim Sciutto said.
“Those biofuels are in fact a large part of the equation,” ABC correspondent David Muir added. “Many farmers around the world, who once grew wheat and rice, now grow corn and sugar cane instead to produce ethanol, a more lucrative market.”
Flash back to two years ago - Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, author of “The World Is Flat,” appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on March 9, 2006. He made a very bold statement about his preferred direction for the future of U.S. energy policy.
“[C]harlie, if they [Iran] cut off oil and oil went to $100 a barrel - that would make my day, because the sooner we go to $100 a barrel, the sooner we’re going to have everyone in America driving a plug-in hybrid car fueled by corn and ethanol,” Friedman said. “And I think that would be a great thing. And that would ultimately free us from having to worry about these people.”
Friedman won his 2002 Pulitzer Prize for “his clarity of vision, based on extensive reporting, in commenting on the worldwide impact of the terrorist threat,” according to the Pulitzer Web site. But his “vision” on energy isn’t looking so clear now that food riots are occurring across the globe, blamed largely on what he said “would be a great thing.”
Oil is trading at more than $100 a barrel, and the amount of ethanol produced in the United States is expected to jump from 4 billion gallons in 2005 to 7.5 billion gallons in 2012, according to Timothy Peach, the Chief Financial Officer of Vista International Technologies (OTC:VVIT).
“We have a competition between land that was used for food production and land that is now being used for energy,” Bettina Luescher of the United Nations World Food Program told ABC News on April 10.
An April 7 Time magazine article also blamed ethanol for the quickened clearing of Brazilian rainforests, as farmers move to plant more soy to meet the demand created as American farmers switch from soy to corn to feed ethanol mandates.