Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blame Mulroney For World Food Crisis

Because one of the driving forces behind the Harper bio-fuels plan is the Canadian Renewable Fuels Association (the CRFA), who helpfully ran pro-ethanol ads for the Tories back in early 2007(*).

Because the CRFA is nothing more than the front group for a consortium of agri-businesses, numbering Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) among their members.

Because on the ADM Board of Directors is one M. Brian Mulroney.

All makes sense now, doesn't it?

(*) And whose executive director, Kory Teneycke, quit the CFRA last November to become the Tory's head garbologist.

Just as an aside, environmentalists have always looked askance at ethanol. It has been embraced by governments because it allows them to multi-task, giving them a green sheen and throwing a bone to an established, powerful constituency (farmers) all in one fell swoop.

10 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

I have to say, even I'm a little startled by how quickly the wheels are coming off the Ethanol-fueled bandwagon.

Corporatist crapulence is failing at an accelerating speed. Maybe everyone should make a point of checking in on their MBA'd acquaintances to make sure they're not too despondent.

Dante said...

Hate to say I agree with ti-guy but the mere concept of people swapping lives for profit really sickens me.

I always knew that burning food was a stupid idea because it wouldn't come at the expense of Fat 1st worlders.

One solution, other than stopping this practice is to get fat people to start eating less. I'm pretty sure that the average calories consumed by Canadians and Americans are almost a third more than necessary to maintain good health. Would you advocate a fat tax BCL? Men over 15% body fat and women above 20% would be taxed for the excess fat that they carry.

bigcitylib said...

A fat tax, or they could work it off by pushing my car around Toronto, thus saving me gasoline.

escapegoat said...

Heh. You mean CRFA when you say CFRA, but 580 CFRA ran a bunch of those "Corn Cob Bob" commercials.

It's interesting that there was a mini-scandal at the time that the CRFA's commercials were used since they took video of Harper from the campaign. After a few days IIRC everything was declared a-ok.

Then, a few weeks later, the Dion attack ads started, with footage from the Liberal convention.

Is it too much to think that the CRFA campaign was a stalking horse to see if the Cons could get away with running attack ads with CPAC footage?

Ti-Guy said...

One solution, other than stopping this practice is to get fat people to start eating less.

You should read up on the type of obesity we're seeing (the deposit of fat in the viscera) and the concomitant increase in diabetes. A lot of it relates to poor urban planning and the inability of lower-income people to get easy access to decent food. Childhood obesity also has a big role to play in the problems people have with adult obesity.

A fat tax isn't going to do anything to change that; a state-sponsored shaming like this would probably make people spend even more money on Doritos™ and Big Gulps™, which are a just edible petroleum products anyway.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Ethanol is one factor in the current food crisis. I been readin' up on the whole thing quite a bit. Ethanol is estimated to be causing somewhere between 5% and 15% of the increased costs.

Dalton Ginty weaseled out of any rethinking on biofuels by declaring that ethanol is not a "dominant" factor in the high cost of food. His brother, MP David Ginty sez the selfsame thing and is still pushin' fer Canada to double it's targets for ethanol-to-gas blends over the next two years.

The problem is that there is a combination of factors and it may be quite likely that no single factor is dominant. The high cost of fossil fuels is probably the biggest factor and it is a factor that exacerbates and compounds other factors.

Biofuel subsidization must cease. Even if it is only responsible for 5% of the cost increase, that means millions more people who are 5% short of having enough to eat.

The role of agri-corporations like ADM and Monsanto is more than just the ethanol angle. Over the past few years, money has flowed into commodities speculation. There's about 20x the traditional capital at play in commodities right now. That's because speculators are making huge profits on commodities. ADM, DeKalb. Monsanto, etc are commodities businesses that are reaping the rewards of that speculation.

Monsanto et al stand to win in their fight to get genetically modified foods accepted worldwide. GM seeds are being sold as a sure way to increase agricultural productivity in the third world. Except that increase is temporary and ensures continued reliance on already high-priced seeds.

All the parties were wrong on biofuels. Even the Greens. We can point fingers and there's plenty of blame to go around.

Eat meat every day? You're part of the problem. Got a diversified RSP with exposure to commodities? You're part of the problem. Waste energy and drive up fuel costs by driving when you could walk? You're part of the problem. Support a party that endorses ethanol subsidies? You're part of the problem.

But, so what if we're all part of the problem? We're just a small part. right? Right. But the problem is hunger and starvation for 1 billion people who live on less than $2 a day. A small part of the problem may represent many, many hungry people.

We, who are active in our parties, should be agitating within our own ranks for a rethink on biofuels. I am doing so in the GPC. I encourage LPC members to write to the McGuinty Bros.

JB

Dante said...

You should read up on the type of obesity we're seeing (the deposit of fat in the viscera) and the concomitant increase in diabetes. A lot of it relates to poor urban planning and the inability of lower-income people to get easy access to decent food. Childhood obesity also has a big role to play in the problems people have with adult obesity.

I'm not convinced good nutrition needs to cost a lot. A lot of processed foods are far more expensive than whole foods. Relative food prices in the 1st world are still relatively cheap compared to historical prices. That is why obesity wasn't a problem 50 years ago.
Many years ago, only the rich were fat because foods relative costs were high. Today the obesity plague is primarily borne by the poor because the relatively wealthy can afford access to health facilities and personal trainers. I am not convinces that we have a nutrition plague at all. People just forgot how to eat well. A bag of doritos probably costs as much as a can of tuna. A big mac meal could easily buy over a pound of boneless skinless chicken breast. Bananas cost 99 cents a pound.
Milk costs a lot but only because we allow the government to regulate the price to protect Quebec Dairy farmers.

We have a population of calorie addicts who were never taught how to eat properly because food has not been scarce.

Ti-Guy said...

I'm not convinced good nutrition needs to cost a lot.

It doesn't. The problems are related to how difficult it is for people to get decent food and have a decent meal. A lot of people are living in suburban areas designed for a style of transportation that is unaffordable and where public transit is either non-existent or extremely inconvenient.

I realise that some people always assume everyone's else's problems are related to how stupid and lazy they are, but life's a little more complicated than that.

I was in the suburbs over the weekend and Lord Almighty if you don't buy 400$ worth of groceries and stuff them into the SUV, grocery shopping is simply not an experience worth going through all that much.

WesternGrit said...

If you're in suburban Lower Mainland BC, or on the island, there is ready access to veggie stands and fruit stalls everywhere. Almost all of them also carry organic food. I live in a pretty suburban part of Surrey BC, and I can walk to my nearest fruit/vegetable stand (actually have a farm and market about a block away from our neighborhood.

The rest of Canada can take a lesson from the planning of cities like Surrey, Langley, and Abbottsford. The vast tracts of urban forest reserves, the urban farms (which is protected), and the focus on "green" is spectacular. I've lived in Regina, Saskatoon, and Calgary before this, and never had experienced such a refreshing environment. As a result, I'VE become greener. I shop more organic. I'm planting trees like crazy - because I can get them for a good price from the literally hundreds of nurseries.

Good urban planning, of course, is only part of the solution. Ethanol needs to be killed as an idea. It's only a way for the oil industry to stretch out there longevity. Remember those giant E85 SUVs run a mix of ethanol AND gasoline. The oil companies are openly behind ethanol because they know they will still profit.

Ti-Guy said...

The rest of Canada can take a lesson from the planning of cities like Surrey, Langley, and Abbottsford

Indeed. I noticed the inclusion of greengrocers and fresh food markets in new developments when I lived there in the 80's.