Food vs. Fuel

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by pyrocyz, Sep 15, 2009.

  1. pyrocyz

    pyrocyz Well-Known Member

    Jun 2, 2006
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    I am not trying to start a political throw-down, just looking for peoples opinion. I work in the biorenewables industry and went to Iowa State to get degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Biorenewable Resources and Technology.

    I came across this youtube video this morning that made me wonder what others thought about the food vs fuel debate. I think that it is a ridiculous concept but I want to hear what you think.

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTBSJl9gabA]YouTube - Biofuels scandal + food prices. Biofuel crisis, biofuel oil, biofuel production, cars, algae, systems and basics introduction to facts about biofuels. Conference keynote speaker Patrick Dixon[/ame]
     
  2. brianhos

    brianhos Moderator
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    How is it a ridiculous concept? Using crops as fuel raises crop pries, pretty simple supply and demand.
     
  3. The_Architect

    The_Architect Well-Known Member

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    This. While the ethanol biz is good for Iowa, it's contributing the the dwindling world food supplies.
     
  4. aeroclone

    aeroclone Well-Known Member

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    I might be more willing to support it if it actually served as a cost efficient replacement for traditional fuels, but from what I have seen so far it doesn't. Add in some of the negative impacts on the food side and the whole movement just seems like a big loser so far. Maybe down the road we will have a winner with cellulosic ethanol or something, but at this point I think we have a loser on our hands.
     
  5. pyrocyz

    pyrocyz Well-Known Member

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    The US exported more corn last year than it did the year before...how is using corn for ethanol then effecting the world food supply??

    Also, do you realize that the cost of the corn in corn flakes contributes to less than 10% of the total cost of the corn flakes. The rising cost of energy for production and transportation is more to blame for rising food costs than the price of corn. Corn prices have dropped, have food prices??

    The third world lives on rice and grains, have you ever heard of a biofuel that is made from rice or wheat? I for sure haven't. Most bio-fuels that are being developed currently use waste materials rather than food products.
     
  6. usedcarguy

    usedcarguy Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure how you can really make that arguement, in considering that the majority of corn goes into livestock feed, and livestock are at very depressed prices. Obviously there's no shortage of supply of grain but a shortage of demand for meat.
     
  7. pyrocyz

    pyrocyz Well-Known Member

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    The rise in corn prices only raised the price of a box of corn flakes by 1.6 cents due to the 50% rise in corn prices...
     
  8. jbhtexas

    jbhtexas Well-Known Member

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    #8 jbhtexas, Sep 15, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
    I think you have to throw in the argument that farmers who would normally grow wheat or other food grains are now growing corn to take advantage of corn prices. Whether that argument is valid or not, I don't know. I was looking at U.S. wheat production costs recently, and at current prices, you need strong yields to break even. I know that farmers in the part of the country that I am from are always looking for things to grow other than wheat, so they can generate more revenue. Why shouldn't they?
     
  9. usedcarguy

    usedcarguy Well-Known Member

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    It's hard to say at this point whether it's a big loser or not. Most of the studies I've seen are not consistent in how they apply economic costs of pollution (emissions and soil runoff) or the cost shifting of ethanol subsidies as compared to the grain subsidies we paid before we had ethanol created demand.

    And once you take all of that into account, there's still the issue of savings from not sending the military into oil producing areas of the middle east.

    All in all, a very difficult question to answer.
     
  10. usedcarguy

    usedcarguy Well-Known Member

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    I can't hear what he's saying as I don't have speakers on this computer, but if his arguement is that bio-fuels are responsible for high grain prices he is dilusional. Everything is tied to oil.
     
  11. Clonehomer

    Clonehomer Well-Known Member

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    Higher crop prices = more income for farmers
    More income for farmers = less government support
    Less government support = less taxes

    I know they will not actually lower taxes but one could wish. Either way, why is ethanol always the fuel compared? Isn't biodiesel more efficient to produce? It wouldn't take a huge shift in the US supply system for people to begin using diesel vehicles with biodiesel rather than gasoline and from everything that I've read it would actually be a more positive switch than moving to ethanol.
     
  12. TykeClone

    TykeClone Burgermeister!

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    US Ethanol production raises the price of corn by $1 per bushel and if you look at the price of corn versus the price of fuel for the last two years, there is a very, very strong correlation between the two.
     
  13. jbhtexas

    jbhtexas Well-Known Member

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    #13 jbhtexas, Sep 15, 2009
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2009
    +1

    Black smoke occasionally comes out of diesel vehicles, thus they have been deemed evil by the environmental police...
     
  14. Clonehomer

    Clonehomer Well-Known Member

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    I guess I always thought that CO and CO2 were colorless odorless gasses so it really doesn't matter what the exhaust looks like.
     
  15. pyrocyz

    pyrocyz Well-Known Member

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    Do me a favor and compare those costs to the cost of oil...it is very interesting.

    Oil contributes more towards the cost of food than the actual cost of the food.
     
  16. jbhtexas

    jbhtexas Well-Known Member

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    I'm guessing that most of the environmental police didn't take a thermodynamics or combustion class in college...
     
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  17. TykeClone

    TykeClone Burgermeister!

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    Ethanol Links Corn To Oil Prices

    Ethanol links the price of corn to the price of oil. No argument can be made that this is not the case.
     
  18. TykeClone

    TykeClone Burgermeister!

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    Just a reminder - this thread is out of the cave until it topples into a political discussion.
     
  19. BKLYNCyclone

    BKLYNCyclone Well-Known Member

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    Couple of points... Sugarcane is far more efficient in producing ethanol. Brazil actually has cheap ethanol because of this fact, and many cars run on it straight.

    Second, I highly recommend the documentary "King Corn." It's available instantly from Netflix and shows how we're technically and ultimately made up from a very high percentage of corn. I don't agree with everything in the film, but it is interesting.

    Finally, I'm all for corn prices going up. Right now the gov't supports most farmers via subsidies. Growing corn doesn't make money without the subsidies. (Basically, the more land you have, the bigger the subsidy). If the prices would go up, we'd be able to eliminate a majority of the subsidies, thus reducing taxes.
     
  20. pyrocyz

    pyrocyz Well-Known Member

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    My argument is that oil prices control the price of food more than the actual price of the food. Transportation costs factor more into your monthly food bill than you think.
     

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