Tuesday, April 29, 2008

President Bush: from food vs. fuel to local food?

It fascinates me that the President corrects the reporter who incorrectly attributes 85% of biofuels price increases to biofuels. 

url: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/04/20080429-1.html

read on:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. I'd like to ask you about an area --

THE PRESIDENT: You're welcome.

Q -- where food prices and energy come together; that's biofuels.


Q The World Bank says about 85 percent of the increase in corn price since 2002 is due to biofuel -- increased demand for biofuels. And your Secretary of State said that -- indicated yesterday that she thought that might be part of the problem. Do you agree with that? And what can the United States do -- what more can the United States do to help make food more affordable around the world?

THE PRESIDENT: Actually, I have a little different take: I thought it was 85 percent of the world's food prices are caused by weather, increased demand and energy prices -- just the cost of growing product -- and that 15 percent has been caused by ethanol, the arrival of ethanol.

By the way, the high price of gasoline is going to spur more investment in ethanol as an alternative to gasoline. And the truth of the matter is it's in our national interests that our farmers grow energy, as opposed to us purchasing energy from parts of the world that are unstable or may not like us.

In terms of the international situation, we are deeply concerned about food prices here at home and we're deeply concerned about people who don't have food abroad. In other words, scarcity is of concern to us. Last year we were very generous in our food donations, and this year we'll be generous as well. As a matter of fact, we just released about $200 million out of the Emerson Trust as part of a ongoing effort to address scarcity.

One thing I think that would be -- I know would be very creative policy is if we -- is if we would buy food from local farmers as a way to help deal with scarcity, but also as a way to put in place an infrastructure so that nations can be self-sustaining and self-supporting. It's a proposal I put forth that Congress hasn't responded to yet, and I sincerely hope they do.


Avery Cohn | Ph.D. Student | Environmental Science, Policy & Management | UC Berkeley | avery.cohn@gmail.com | (510) 410-3731

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