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Ethanol Demand Is Boosting Food Prices Worldwide 599

hereisnowhy writes "The rising demand for corn as a source of ethanol-blended fuel is largely to blame for increasing food costs around the world, the CBC reports. Increased prices for ethanol have already led to bigger grocery bills for the average American — an increase of $47 US compared to July 2006. In Mexico last year, corn tortillas, a crucial source of calories for 50 million poor people, doubled in price; the increase forced the government to introduce price controls. The move to ethanol-blended fuel is based in part on widespread belief that it produces cleaner emissions than regular gasoline. But a recent Environment Canada study found no statistical difference between the greenhouse gas emissions of regular unleaded fuel and 10 per cent ethanol-blended fuel. Environmental groups have argued that producing ethanol — whether from corn, beets, wheat, or other crops — requires more energy than can be derived from the product."
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Ethanol Demand Is Boosting Food Prices Worldwide

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  • Corn Syrup (Score:3, Informative)

    by MankyD ( 567984 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:14PM (#19227797) Homepage
    I've heard that our heavy dependence on corn as an additive (e.g., corn syrup) is one main contributor to the lack of affordable, healthful food options in grocery stores. Might this work to reverse that trend?
  • Oh, come on! (Score:4, Informative)

    by PHAEDRU5 ( 213667 ) <> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:25PM (#19227981) Homepage
    The second and thord paragraphs of the article:

    Food prices rose 10 per cent in 2006, "driven mainly by surging prices of corn, wheat and soybean oil in the second part of the year," the International Monetary Fund said in a report.

    "Looking ahead, rising demand for biofuels will likely cause the prices of corn and soybean oil to rise further," the authors wrote in the report released last month.
    Food prices rose in 2006, for basic reasons left unspecified. The prices may continue to rise, for a reason that is pure speculation.

    But yeah, it's all about biofuels.
  • by stu42j ( 304634 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:29PM (#19228051) Homepage
    Ethanol is added to gasoline to reduce carbon monoxide emissions and ground-level ozone as an alternative to MTBE. Greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide) have nothing to do with it.
  • Re:Use Other Foods (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:35PM (#19228151) Homepage Journal
    You're partially correct. Much greater fuel-alcohol production can be realized from Cane Sugar and Sugar Beets than from corn. The only reason why the ethanol crowd is so focused on corn is because America has a lot of it. Hawaii produces a great deal of cane sugar, but it pales in comparison to corn production. And sugar beet production is entirely focused on sugar. Still, both plants are useful for creating butanol [], an alcohol with properties and energy densities much closer to gasoline than ethanol.
  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:38PM (#19228203) Homepage
    The main culprit is corn-based ethanol. The energy consumed to produce a barrel of corn-based ethanol consumes exceeds the energy offered by that barrel [].

    The motivation for corn-based ethanol is political. While Washington advocates "free markets", American politicians of all political persuasions advocate subsidizing the production of corn-based ethanol because American agribusiness nearly owns the government.

    Generally speaking, subsidies cost taxpayers dearly but do not pose a hazard. Corn-based ethanol is an exception. It drives up the price of corn and could lead to severe malnutrition in Mexico and other poor countries which cannot afford higher prices for basic food items. Subsidies for corn-based ethanol could indirectly kill people (via starvation) in the 3rd world.

    Do American politicians care? No. They care only about making American agribusiness happy.

  • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:42PM (#19228293)
    Fossil fuels until nuke facilities are built and can supply the energy.
  • Re:Wakeup call (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:51PM (#19228461) Homepage Journal

    Energy payback of biomass ethanol [] is negative meaning more energy from fossil fuels are consumed in the production of biomass ethanol than energy provided by the ethanol.

    Cornell, Cornell. That sounds familiar. Oh yeah! Isn't that where Pimentel works? i.e. The same guy who's been trying to discredit ethanol for the past 30 years?

    Studies that have been done independent of Pimentel's research have shown the exact opposite to be true:

    List of studies []

    * "Estimating the Net Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol" - "We show that corn ethanol is energy efficient as indicated by an energy ratio of 1.24."

    * "The Energy Balance of Corn Ethanol: An Update" - "For every BTU dedicated to producing ethanol there is a 34% energy gain."

    * "How Much Energy Does It Take to Make a Gallon of Ethanol?" - "Using the best farming and production methods, the amount of energy contained in a gallon of ethanol is more than twice the energy used to grow the corn and convert it to ethanol."

    * "New study confronts old thinking on ethanol's net energy value" - "Ethanol generates 35% more energy than it takes to produce, according to a recent study by Argonne National Laboratory conducted by Michael Wang."

    Why is it that every study that shows ethanol as net negative has Pimentel's name on it somewhere, while independent studies are quickly showing the exact opposite to be true?

    Pimentel's numbers were probably correct in the 1970s. It's not the 1970s anymore, and that guy is becoming a serious pain in the posterior.

  • Where to begin. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @05:54PM (#19228519)
    #1 Any car made past 81 can take 10% Ethanol without rotting fuel lines, chances are you're running E10 in your car right now. Newer cars can handle the Ethanol without a problem. "Rubber" isn't really used in fuel lines any more anyway.

    #2 - Dead wrong. It cleans injectors, it clogs fuel filters and after running 2-3 tanks through your car, your tank, your injectors and everything else will be squeeky clean. Sure, during the transition you may go through 2-3 filters, but your car will be better off.

    #3 - Source please? I've seen quotes of .7 to 1. And this isn't a constant. New bacterias and yeasts are bringing this number down. Purdue has a GMO bacteria that can breakdown celluose, thus drastically reducing the costs of materials and energy. It can take wasted sawdust and turn it into fuel.

    #4 - It doesn't need to be corn. Ethanol could be produced from sugar, the most overproduced crop in the world. It can now be produced from waste paper.

    If you had an argument, it would be that ethanol doesn't produce as much energy per gallon as gas. But that can be overcome with higher compression engines...

  • Re:Corn Syrup (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:01PM (#19228693)
    According to Wikipedia:

    Top 10 Sugarcane Producers - 2005

    Country 1000 tonnes
    ===== ========
      Brazil 422,926
      India 232,300
      China 87,768
      Pakistan 47,244
      Mexico 45,195
      Thailand 43,665
      Colombia 39,849
      Australia 37,822
      Indonesia 29,505
      USA 25,307
    World Total 1,011,581

    I don't see Cuba there....
  • six inches, baby... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gooseygoose ( 722201 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:19PM (#19228983)
    As a Pennsylvania farmer put it to me in February: "It looks like we're going to burn up the last remaining six inches of Midwest topsoil in our gas-tanks." I *heart* Jim Kunstler. Here's a link to his piece on ethanol, etc. [].
  • by CPE1704TKS ( 995414 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:28PM (#19229103)
    If corn prices doubled, then more farmers will plant corn, and it will cause the price of corn to drop. I'm sure at some point there will be a crisis where too much corn is produced, which will cause a plummet of corn prices and another "corn crisis", and less farmers will plant corn, cycle repeats, etc. It will all work itself out.

    BTW, ethanol is not added to make emissions cleaner, it was added to replace MTBE. It's a widely held misnomer that it was added to decrease emissions or whatnot.
  • by Your.Master ( 1088569 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:36PM (#19229197)
    Heavy water is not H30. Heavy water is DOH -- Deuterium, Oxygen, Hydrogen. Deuterium, in turn, is Hydrogen with an extra neutron, making it about twice as massive as standard hydrogen. So heavy water has about 19 atomic mass units per molecule while water has 18.
  • by happyfrogcow ( 708359 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:41PM (#19229233)
    If corn prices doubled, then more farmers will plant corn, and it will cause the price of corn to drop. I'm sure at some point there will be a crisis where too much corn is produced, which will cause a plummet of corn prices and another "corn crisis", and less farmers will plant corn, cycle repeats, etc. It will all work itself out.

    First, capitalism needs to come into play. Right now, farmers grow as much corn as physically possible knowing that the government will buy it at a set rate, regardless of what the commodity price is.

    The government needs to remove it's hand from this one and let the real market forces go to work.
  • by rossifer ( 581396 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:45PM (#19229287) Journal

    #1 - It rots fuel lines.
    Well, it's not compatible with buna-n based rubbers, but it's not like gasoline is all sunshine and fresh breezes. It's quite possible to buy fuel lines (and other fuel handling components) appropriate for ethanol. Most newer US-made vehicles already come with fuel systems that can handle 85% ethanol.

    #2 - It clogs injectors.
    False. Ethanol is a single chemical (it doesn't leave a residue) and burns 100% so it's not a likely cause of injector clogging. If you're using the wrong fuel lines... well, yes. That will cause a problem.

    #3 - it takes 1.8 units of energy to produce and distribute 1 energy-unit of Ethanol to the consumer.
    False. Pimintel certainly is loud, but he's just about the only researcher saying this, and he's basing his numbers on 70's era technology. Currently, you get 1.35 units of highly purified ethanol for 1 unit of fuel put into the effort (and that fuel can be ethanol or biodiesel, closing out fossil fuels entirely).

    [ethanol] reduces your gas mileage, causing you to buy more gas.
    This is true, ethanol has less energy per unit volume, so you'll get fewer miles per fill up. In terms of energy efficiency, however, ethanol is pretty much a wash. Now, people absolutely should know that they'll only get 75% of the range from E85 that they do from gasoline, and E85 will need to be priced accordingly, but I suspect that the difference is substantial enough that people will notice and demand energy-equivalent pricing.

  • by zstlaw ( 910185 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @06:50PM (#19229359)
    The article you linked to was about Tad Patzek's paper. For context, Patzek runs the UC Oil Consortium which does a lot of Oil company funded research. I would be a little cautious of taking his research without a grain of salt. At least one critic said Patzek assumes techniques that are about 25 years out of date in this paper.
  • by Tatarize ( 682683 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @07:08PM (#19229557) Homepage
    We have enough uranium to power the world for several thousand years. Basically we stopped reusing it. We run it through and convert a small amount to plutonium. Rather than keep running it and burning off the plutonium we get rid of the "waste" when in reality it isn't even 1% used up. We could pretty well build massive arrays of solid constructed nuclear power plants without any dependence on anybody else. Also we could start burning off our nuclear weapons, splicing them with depleted uranium and using them up too.

    Dependence is a worse argument than the laugh-out-loud funny nugget... "it takes power to mine the Uranium and usually that power is coal power!" -- As if producing energy on the flip side doesn't offset it, or that the same argument can't also be applied to solar panels (which by the way we should start producing more).
  • Re:Food is too cheap (Score:3, Informative)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @07:19PM (#19229681)

    No, other way around.
    I knew you'd say that, but no.

    Subsidies make farming a particular crop more profitable, they encourage farmers to switch to produce the crop (It's profitable), they encourage overproduction to maximise the return on the subsidy and as the supply increases, the market value drops. Subsidies drive down prices. More subsidy is required to maintain profitability and more farmers are encouraged to produce the crop, supply increases further and the market value drops further. We're long past the point where subsidies were put in place to counter temporary market fluctuations.

    BTW, the excess doesn't get thrown away, it ends up destroying agricultural markets in the third world, driving local farmers out of production, with the associated famine, death etc we regularly see on TV.
  • Impossible standards (Score:2, Informative)

    by ePhil_One ( 634771 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @07:34PM (#19229889) Journal
    I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for a nuclear energy source that passes prominent environmentalists' litmus test.

    Do what I do and ignore them, they spout as many lies as the other side. Ethanol IS cleaner, this study looked at greenhouse gasses (CO2) which are going to be about the same for any Hydrocarbon, however other pollutants are better (and CO2 has only recently been considered as a pollutant. Those dang environmentalists produce tons of pollutants by breathing, imagine if they all stopped?). Co-incedentally, growing plants consumes pollutants as they breath in CO2 and release they waste product, O2. Ethanol also breaks our dependance on a limited resource, crude oil. Imagine if we didn't care about mideast oil, except as it affected the price we earned for our own oil exports. We could leave Alaskan oil in the ground as a "strategic reserve" and let the wilderness alone.

    Environmental extremists are waiting for a pipe dream, Hydrogen powered cars where all the H is produced by means of Solar power and the batteries consist of Hemp and seawater instead of metals and strong acids. Any intermidate steps distract from their long term goals

  • by jamie(really) ( 678877 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @07:42PM (#19229981)

    That demand for ethanol is raising food prices only goes to show that US sponsorship of the oil industry has to end, not that ethanol should be banned. There are huge tracts of land in the US that could easily be used to grow good ethanol crops (i.e. not corn) that are currently paid to sit empty. Putting a moratorium on bio fuels just deters the very investment that we need to transfer to a non-oil economy. That people are starving only shows how effective the oil companies are at killing this alternative.

    As for the claims that biofuels produce more carbon dioxide per ton than petroleum, well thats great spin. What these reports fail to tell you is that all this carbon that is released was *all* originally absorbed by the plants from the *air*. Its a net zero effect. Oil, on the other hand, is releasing carbon that was safely stuck underground.

    The problem with people chopping down the rain forests is a difficult one. You can't put the genie back in the bottle: some 85% of cars in Brazil will run ethanol, so you can't legislate it away (try prohibition but for cars!). Bottom line, people need food and fuel. If the developed nations want to save the rain forests, I suspect they will have to buy them.

    I would recommend viewing Vinod Khosla's google tech talk: 128950913 [].

  • by ThiagoHP ( 910442 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:09PM (#19230255)
    . . . at least for the article writer:

    The rising demand for corn as a source of ethanol-blended fuel is largely to blame for increasing food costs around the world, and Canada is not immune, say industry experts.

    Not all countries extract ethanol from corn. Nobody does that in Brazil. All ethanol here is made from sugar cane, which has a higher production rate than corn. And, here in Brazil, the use of ethanol never made any influence on the cost of food, just a little bit on alcoholic beverages. :)

    There are a lot of cars here running on ethanol since the 70s. In 1986, more than 76% of all cars sold ran on ethanol. For a long time already, all gasoline sold here has 25% of ethanol. Many of the cars sold in Brazil now are flexible-fuel []: they can run on any mixture of gasoline and ethanol. They are a huge selling hit. All all gasoline stations in Brazil sell both gasoline and ethanol

    More information about ethanol in Brazil can be found at Wikipedia [].

  • Re:Corn Syrup (Score:5, Informative)

    by scoove ( 71173 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:12PM (#19230281)
    farmers have been severely pissed off about the low prices they've been getting. One frind of mine who farms poined out there's more money in hauling garbage per ton than selling corn per ton.

    Exactly. Corn prices have been near historic lows, and now we finally have upward change (which apparently is something the under-educated news media doesn't grasp. Guess we know who flunked out of calculus in school).

    I live in rural Iowa and work in Nebraska and have many friends who are row crop farmers. Both corn and soybean prices have finally increased past the government subsidy for minimum prices (which unfortunately has detrimental effects itself). Last year, farmers were dumping crops and not even bothering to store them due to the prices being so low. The took the subsizided minimum price and cut their losses. More farmers were squeezed out of the market. The U.S. economy has had a massive shift from farm-oriented rural economies over the past century (from 95% rural agricultural focused to less than 5%) which automation and technologies certainly improves, but the losses we've seen since 1990 has had little to do with any further automation.

    Unless you've inherited at least 2,000 acres, you can't make the finances work in today's row crop economy. Those that are doing fine have more than 3,000 acres per family for corn and beans in our parts. At $2,200 to $3,200 an acre, you cannot purchase new land and go into farming and survive, even with considerable governmental support. You have to have a base of inherited land that has nearly zero cost as a base, and even then you're dependent upon subsidized government crop insurance. Consider these numbers: good corn yields around these parts of the Midwest are 140 bushels per acre. At $2.50 a bushel, your gross income per acre is a whopping $350. Less fuel costs, seed costs, fertilizer and other chemical costs, irrigation, crop insurance, tractor & combine machinery costs, contractor costs for spraying, trucking costs to move crops from the field to market, and any storage costs, you're looking at hard costs of $200-$250 per acre. $100 income per acre, before labor and land cost. Remember, I said you had to already own the land, because if you do the net present value math on 1,000 acres at $2500/acre (6% over 10 years), you'll be paying $340 per year per acre - which is almost as much as your gross profit itself. Care to dive into farming?

    So understand that corn prices have been historically low, and now they are finally changing due to demand for the product. Any economist worth his salt can tell you the crops being produced aren't priced right when the total profit from the sale of those crops barely covers the cost of dormant land, let alone all the other expenses (using pragmatic numbers assuming 10% margins bearing full costs, we should expect to see $7 to $8 dollar corn per bushel, or must see a dramatic devaluation in farmland prices). Foreign subsidization of corn crop production has also kept prices unnaturally low, as well as import barriers on U.S. product. Just like global warming, you cannot have a rational perspective if you accept only the extreme outliers at one tail and call that a central tendency. Prices will change, and in this case, regression to the mean [] is going to occur (meaning that things tend to want to go back to the normal medium, rather than staying at the extremes).

    If you're looking for things to panic about, this isn't one of them. Be thankful that we won't lose even more U.S. crop production human capital, or the natural correction of this unnatural trend will be even more dramatic. Be encouraged that poor foreign farmers in Mexico, South America and elsewhere are being paid more for their crops, instead of throwing a couple more billion dollars at the oil elites. If you hate big business, hate the multi-billionaire clubs, hate corrupt oil cartels, then spend your gas money on ethanol fuel and biodiesel.

  • Corn? 10%? (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRedDon ( 68552 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:16PM (#19230321)
    We can produce far more ethanol from sugar, switchgrass, and hemp. We need to re-organize our national priorities to explore these crops and keep corn as food, not as fuel. Sorry corn lobby. When you use E85 the difference in emissions in undeniable. Who cares about E10. Its time to do what Brazil has already done and get off Gas, and jump on a fuel we can create domestically and sustain a healthier world.
  • by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Tuesday May 22, 2007 @08:44PM (#19230541) Homepage

    The problem isn't that though, the problem is storing the waste, no one wants it in their region.
    Waste shouldn't be "stored", it should be recycled. Nuclear plant "waste" is really only about 10% used. Stick it in a breeder reactor and you not only get more fuel you can stick into the first reactor, but you generate power in the process. No, the problem with waste is that a chain of political idiots and their energy department appointees (every president since Carter, inclusive) have prohibited or defunded the construction of waste reprocessing breeder reactors (Carter, Clinton), or displayed a near complete disinterest in promoting nuclear power (Reagan, Bush, Bush). The classic objection to breeders is that they produce plutonium, which can be used to make nuclear bombs. This completely overlooks the fact that unless you build a breeder reactor specifically for the purpose of making pure Pu-239 for nuclear weapons, you get a mix of Pu isotopes which absolutely can not be detonated, and is only suitable for use as reactor fuel.
  • Waste shouldn't be "stored", it should be recycled.

    Only applies to spent fuel. You don't reprocess decommissioned reactor vessels. And reprocessing still leaves the fission products to deal with, as well as mining and processing tailings.

    No, the problem with waste is that a chain of political idiots and their energy department appointees

    The problem is that reprocessing isn't economical at current conditions - which is why initial U.S. attempts failed and why Germany is ending their program [].

    This might change if all the external costs were included; but then if all the external costs were included, we wouldn't even be considering plutonium and uranium fission.

    (We wouldn't be considering biofuels from food crops either - biowaste, algae, and fuel crops like hemp and switchgrass, maybe bamboo. Growing food-grade corn to make fuel-grade ethanol is just plain stupid, and has more to do with lining the pockets of agribusiness than with meeting energy needs.)

    And breeders aren't a perpetual motion machine. You still run out of uranium in the order of decades ro centuries. (Unless you go to thorium, in which case spallation "energy amplifiers" are a much better design. Those, and fusion, are where we should be looking to nuclear technologies.)

    This completely overlooks the fact that unless you build a breeder reactor specifically for the purpose of making pure Pu-239 for nuclear weapons, you get a mix of Pu isotopes which absolutely can not be detonated

    ...until you separate them out, or change your bomb design to account for a different mix of isotopes. In 1962, the U.S. detonated a bomb made from "reactor grade" plutonium. [] (See 15th page of the PDF, footnote 5.)

    Google for "Iran nuclear []", and tell me that we're going to let every country on earth have a couple of plutonium factories, on the assumption that they're all too dumb to be able to do that.

    Separation is not easy, but certainly not impossible. Many of the claims of difficulty of obtaining weapons-grade fissionables are based on the difficulty of handling highly radioactive waste. When you have martyr wannabe's standing by, though, a lot of these problems are solved. Shielding? Feh. "Come here, unskilled uneducated believer-type. You will die a glorious death for $CAUSE and be assured of a rewarding afterlife if you handle this Rock of the Gods exactly as I tell you..."

    Indeed, given the fears of a "dirty bomb", bad guys don't even have to seperate, or achieve a fission bomb. Take a chunk of mixed Pu, stick it in the middle of a Ryder truck full of fuel oil and fertilizer, and drive into the center of $BIG_CITY. Let the good times roll.

  • by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @06:35AM (#19233919)

    The Amazon ... some 25% of the planet's oxygen.
    While I deplore the destruction of the Amazon for many other reasons, it's contribution to global oxygen emissions is not one of them.

    Rainforest is carbon neutral. There is such a rich and efficient ecosystem that the vast majority of organic matter is recycled in some way. The forest mass is in a steady state (where it isn't being chopped down, of course). The topsoil layer is only a few feet thick and not rich at all - which is obvious when you look at the slash and burn pattern of agriculture there. Yes, it produces a significant fraction of the world oxygen output. But it then consumes it again.

    What people forget is that plants consume oxygen! They need aerobic respiration just like every other living thing. During the night, they emit carbon dioxide. They just happen to produce a surplus of oxygen as a result of their growth process, because they source carbon from atmospheric sources (i.e. CO2). Animals in the rainforest all consume any dead plant matter with immense efficiency. And the animals get eaten by smaller organisms, etc, etc. All of these steps emit the carbon that the plant biomass originally sequestered.

    An ecosystem only has a positive oxygen production (and carbon sequestration) when the biomass it produces increases. The biomass of the rainforest, per hectare, remains pretty stable (until you burn it). Ergo, the rainforest is not as commonly portrayed, "the lungs of the planet". If you were to enclose it in a huge glass dome tomorrow, the human race would not suddenly keel over from lack of oxygen.

    I'm not saying it doesn't have a regulatory effect. The enormous amount of water transpiration alone must effect global climate in ways that we probably don't fully understand. And it's value as one of the most biologically diverse environments on earth cannot be understated. From a selfish point of view, more cancer treatments come from the rainforest than anywhere else.

    But environmental campaigners really need to focus on arguments that are not disprovable without even resorting to spin and misinformation.
  • by flight_master ( 867426 ) on Wednesday May 23, 2007 @09:29AM (#19235149)
    I'm a farmer myself, and it's articles like this, from urbanites who have no idea what agriculture actually entails that piss me off.

    Is Ethanol raising base commodity prices? Yes. Wheat is up $4 / bushel (used for flour), Barley is up $2.00 / bushel (Used for beer, among other things), Canola is up about $30 / tonne (Used for oil), Flax is up about $5.00 / bushel (used for healthfood).

    Are these price-hikes due to Ethanol/Biodiesel? At least partially, yes.

    But, why is food going up? I see a lot of people are blaming farmers for this... we are only now starting to make a living off of one of the most intense jobs in the world. You all make $30 - $50k a year, at least! We make $10K, and that's in a good year. You work 9-5, we work 5 - midnight, if not longer.

    This brings me back to my point... let's look at peas, a bushel of them is worth $5.00 at the farmgate. In the store, you're looking at around $200 / bushel for whole peas! The only processing done on them, is cleaning and packaging. Do you see where the profit is?

    Let's look at Oats: We make $2 / bushel. A bushel of rolled oats (Quaker Oats, etc) is roughly $270. I mean, it may cost some to process it, but it never is that much.

    I could go on, but I think you get my point.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter