Food Crisis

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Food Crisis

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:12 pm

Government subsidies, quotas, and regulations have produced some distortions in the market that make it difficult to find a good response to the food crisis. Better to do away with these. Many countries tax imported food also. Just makes it worse.

I know some feel its unethical to turn food into fuel, but how about taxing food? Lets see which countries do the most for people now.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby jamiebk » Tue Apr 29, 2008 6:21 pm

Giant Communist Robot wrote:Government subsidies, quotas, and regulations have produced some distortions in the market that make it difficult to find a good response to the food crisis. Better to do away with these. Many countries tax imported food also. Just makes it worse.

I know some feel its unethical to turn food into fuel, but how about taxing food? Lets see which countries do the most for people now.


Not to mention those infamous subsidies from the government to the farmers to NOT grow crops!
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Shapley » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:18 am

I don't think it's unethical to turn food into fuel (which is what our bodies do every day), but I think it is illogical. The farmers are happy to see it. Corn is now selling for double the prices it was fetching just two years ago. Many farmers are switching fields over from other, less profitable food crops to grow corn for ethanol. About 30% of our corn crop is being turned into ethanol. The story is similar in the European Union.

American farmers have complained about the low prices they've recieved for crops for decades. Now they're not complaining, but everyone else is. What to do?

We also got wheat stem-rot spreading throughout the southern hemisphere, significantly reducing the yield on wheat. New rot-resistant strains are being developed and shipped, but they will not be in time for this growing season, so the shortages will continue for the near term. Rice is replacing wheat and corn, producing a run on that staple. There appears to be no shortage of rice at the time being, except a market-produced one resulting from an demand exceeding delivery. Wal-Mart and Sam's club are rationing purchases until deliveries improve.

If we shut down the ethanol plants, or reduce their consumption of grain to increase availability for feed-corn, we will anger the environmentalists, those who have invested in ethanol plants, and the farmers.

The market will sort itself out, if we let it. Many of our problems are due to government meddling - biofuel mandates being part of the equation. The effect biofuel alternatives may have on global warming will be minimal, at best. The more immediate effects on the food supply will be much greater. Do we really need to starve millions now so we can, perhaps, stave off global warming for a few years? Are the environmentalists deaf to the cries of the hungry? Who will stand in judgement for the results of short-sighted policy, and who will be the judge?

And where is Al Gore hiding through all of this?
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Shapley » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:29 am

Food Crisis Beginning To Eclipse Climate-Change Worries

It's going to be hard to sell concern over some far-in-the-future climate change theory if your argument can't be heard over the rumblings of your listeners bellies...
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby jamiebk » Wed Apr 30, 2008 8:34 am

I think I'd rather be warm with a full belly, than cold and hungry. :wink:
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby barfle » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:28 am

The part of the equation that seems to be missing is the nitrate fertilizer energy content. That was discussed earlier, and we know that the fertilizer plants use a lot of energy, which is typically from imported petroleum.

If the true costs of corn-to-ethanol were made clear, I think we'd drop the idea as being uneconomical, particularly when it comes to corn.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby barfle » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:29 am

jamiebk wrote:I think I'd rather be warm with a full belly, than cold and hungry. :wink:

As my father told me, it is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Shapley » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:33 am

barfle wrote:The part of the equation that seems to be missing is the nitrate fertilizer energy content. That was discussed earlier, and we know that the fertilizer plants use a lot of energy, which is typically from imported petroleum.

If the true costs of corn-to-ethanol were made clear, I think we'd drop the idea as being uneconomical, particularly when it comes to corn.


I still say I'd be in favour of ethanol production if we could make it from Kudzu, Crabgrass, Johnson Grass, and Iceplant. Making it from foodstuffs just doesn't add up.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby jamiebk » Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:56 am

I heard just this morning on the news that scientists from the Nature Conservancy have determined that cutting down the forests to plant bio-fuel sources (mostly corn) actually releases more CO2 into the air than what is saved by using the fuel...go figure :roll:
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:56 pm

Shapley wrote:
I don't think it's unethical to turn food into fuel (which is what our bodies do every day)


Are these things really the same? I don't care to argue the point beyond this reply, but using food to produce ethanol seems different than feeding people.

Barfle wrote:

If the true costs of corn-to-ethanol were made clear, I think we'd drop the idea as being uneconomical


One can always depend on Barfle to take the logical/technical approach, but here it misses a point: ethanol is about making money for some people, not about saving money for others.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Shapley » Wed Apr 30, 2008 2:03 pm

Giant Communist Robot wrote:Are these things really the same? I don't care to argue the point beyond this reply, but using food to produce ethanol seems different than feeding people.


I was just referring to the old school textbooks (and food commercials) which referred to food as 'fuel for our bodies'. In a way, they are the same, in that our body is referred to as a 'machine' that runs on the fuel known as food. Yet again, they are not the same, because it is not unethical to let an automobile engine die by neglecting to fill it with fuel, but it is (generally) considered unethical to let a person die by the same method.

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Re: Food Crisis

Postby barfle » Wed Apr 30, 2008 4:26 pm

Giant Communist Robot wrote:One can always depend on Barfle to take the logical/technical approach, but here it misses a point: ethanol is about making money for some people, not about saving money for others.

I think that was a compliment, so I'll thank you for it.

But the point I was trying to make is that those "some people" aren't paying the true costs, and if they were, they'd be doing something else.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Haggis@wk » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:27 pm

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey

Hmmmm, even my favorite honey is Chinese!!!
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Wed Nov 09, 2011 6:29 pm

I recently read a book about honey. The way imports and exports work truly inferior stuff gets exported in bulk from China to places like Australia and Canada. There it can be bottled and labeled as "Product of Canada" or wherever. Now I have serious doubts about whether the jar of honey at the store is even honey. The labels don't tell you the whole story.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:59 pm

Giant Communist Robot wrote:I recently read a book about honey. The way imports and exports work truly inferior stuff gets exported in bulk from China to places like Australia and Canada. There it can be bottled and labeled as "Product of Canada" or wherever. Now I have serious doubts about whether the jar of honey at the store is even honey. The labels don't tell you the whole story.



According to the aticle most honey sold in the U.S. isn't.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Haggis@wk » Thu Nov 10, 2011 12:59 pm

Drought in top pecan-growing states like Texas and strong demand from China are expected to boost pecan prices to $11 a pound this year, up from $7 in 2008, growers say
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:09 pm

I wonder what price per pound the Chinese are paying? CIA factbook gives 4,400 dollars per capita for the People's Republic. Unless it's subsidized it must take a big bite out of their food budget. To me, it seems unlikely that demand from China is a big part of this.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Giant Communist Robot » Thu Nov 10, 2011 2:29 pm

I couldn't get the USDA query to work, but it does appear that Hong Kong is the leading importer of unshelled pecans from the U.S. CIA factbook puts Hong Kong per capita just about equal with the U.S. at about ~45,000 per year.

Mexican pecans might be an alternative.
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby Shapley » Thu Nov 10, 2011 3:26 pm

It's been a long time since I've been to Hong Kong, but I don't remember pecans being a main staple there. You couldn't find a decent pecan pie in the whole territory.

Of course, it was still British in those days, so maybe that made a difference...
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Re: Food Crisis

Postby dai bread » Thu Nov 10, 2011 6:06 pm

Food crisis? What food crisis? We're feeding 6 billion people on this planet. That's more than the entire population just a couple generations ago.

What we do have is a population crisis coupled (usually in the same countries) with a governance crisis. Both appear to be fixing themselves. Governments have been replaced in North Africa, though whether there will be any actual improvements remains to be seen. The rate of population growth is slowing, according to the United Nations. Now if both trends continue, and meaningful governance reform comes to the rest of Africa, and a few other places that could do with it, we'll be o.k. in another generation.

People seem very reluctant to accept change, particularly if it's drastically for the worse. They don't want to just knuckle down and get on with it.
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