The media love reporting about the rising costs of food while the US Congress debates the issue, and biofuels have taken the unfortunate and unfounded blame for the increase that consumers see in food prices. As usual the media have not done any homework, and put any thought into the matter of how much corn or rice costs. The national media never seem to lay blame at the door of the true cause while they scapegoat an industry they fail to understand, and they broadcast their ignorance nationally without raising issue with the true cause. If the news media truly did their research, which is hiding in plain site, they would realize that the cost of oil is the cause for the increase in food prices.
We are slaves to the ever fluctuating price of fuel as it affects every aspect of our lives along with the price of everything we buy. As oil has been well over $100 a barrel for longer than most people care to remember, this rapidly increased price has added to the cost of doing business as higher energy prices are reflected in the cost of everything we use and buy. The costs associated with harvesting, transporting and refrigerating food has increased and these increases are based on the price of fossil fuels and have little to do with biofuel. Granted there may be a minor increase in certain food products as more biofuel refining comes online, but biofuel refining capacity reflects such a tiny fraction of overall fuel consumption that there should be almost no noticable increases in the biofuel crops for years to come.
Demand for oil has increased exponentially in China and India over the last decade, and yet this never seems to be a legitimate explanation to the national media for the increase in oil prices, which as we know raises the cost of absolutely everything in modern society. Between India’s and China’s rising middle class, there is a natural increase in demand for energy, products and serivces that will outstrip supply, unless newer more sustainable energy sources are found. Consumption of oil has even increased in the Arab Gulf states, so they are exporting less and consuming more. Biofuel is not an end all for our energy concerns, but it does add time for us to develop more efficient sources of fuel energy, without raising the cost of food prices.
Biofuels can be and are made from a wide variety of biomass sources, much of which you wouldn’t dream of eating, like switch grass, cellulosic pulp and everyone’s favorite industrial hemp. We have yet to hear of anyone complain about the prices of switch grass and cellulose or be allowed to legally grow hemp as a biofuel source. As more biofuel options come online we will eventually see a decrease in the cost of fuel prices thanks to a greater supply of fuel to catch up to the demand. With biofuels providing another fuel source that will increase fuel stock, the price for processing and transportion should drop, and the price of foods at the grocery store should drop as well, including the foods used for producing biofuel. If a quarter of the farm harvesting equipment, trucking and shipping sources were to run on biofuels, then farmers would be able to grow and distill a fuel source which would slow the US demand for oil. As demand dropped, so would prices of everyting we use and buy, and that includes the price of food.
Biofuels are not the final answer to our energy problems, but biofuels can alleviate some of our current energy needs without increased food prices. Another benefit from biofuel production will be the technological advancements from the research and development, as well as good paying high-technology jobs. It may seem that this has been a long post on why biofuels are not responsible for increased prices to food and other goods and services, we have kept it short and may elaborate on certain details at a later date. Although we are only scratching the surface with the benefits that can be gained from fully engaging in biofuels, we want to hear what others have to say on the matter.