[permaculture] Fwd: FW: Agribusiness coalition Alliance for Abundant Food and Fuel

Hilary Nalven hnalven at gmail.com
Thu Jul 24 14:57:45 EDT 2008

 *BIOFUELS: Agri-business giants launch new coalition (07/24/2008)*
*Allison Winter, E&E Daily reporter*
A new coalition of major agri-business companies will launch a campaign
today to promote agricultural technology as a solution to meet expanding
demands for food and fuel.

The "Alliance for Abundant Food and Energy" wants to convince lawmakers and
the public that new innovation can help farmers around the world produce
enough to satisfy growing appetites for food and biofuels.

Monsanto, DuPont, Archer Daniels Midland Co., John Deere and the Renewable
Fuels Association are kicking off the campaign today with advertisements in
Capitol Hill newspapers and a press event in D.C.

"We want to promote the belief that through innovation we can meet the
growing demand for food and fuel," said Monsanto spokesman Mimi Ricketts.

Leading the alliance is Mark Kornblau, a communications professional who
worked as a spokesman for the 2004 Democratic presidential campaign, a
strategist for Sen. Debbie Stabenow's (D-Mich.) 2000 bid to overturn
incumbent Sen. Spencer Abraham (R-Mich.) and on marketing and business
development for the Zagat guides.

Ricketts maintains the campaign does not come in response to some of the
negative backlash that biofuels have received this year. The Grocery
Manufacturers Association and other food and environmental groups launched
their own "Food Before Fuel" campaign last month to urge Congress to revisit
biofuels policy (*E&E
June 11).

The agribusiness groups want to remind Congress of the need for more
research and technological investment in agriculture, Ricketts said.

Interest groups on all sides of the food and fuels debate have sparred over
the reasons and potential solutions for the rise in food and commodity
prices. Food suppliers and environmental groups have called for scaling back
the renewable fuels mandate, while Agriculture Department officials have
promoted the expansion of biotechnology in developing nations as an answer
to the global food crisis.

Farmers in the United States have seen their corn yields double every
generation, due to advanced pest-resistant seeds and new precision farming
techniques, like equipment that can place fertilizer in the soil exactly
where a plant's roots will need it. Farmers in many other parts of the world
have not benefitted from such advancements and have much lower yields.

*New report on ethanol and food prices *
Ethanol and high gas prices have bared the brunt of the blame from some
groups. A new report yesterday from Purdue University said that the falling
dollar and increased global consumption are also to blame.

The team of Purdue economists compiled their own research and 25 recent
studies for the study, commissioned by the Illinois-based nonprofit Farm

They found that soaring oil prices are responsible for $3 of the run-up in
corn prices, and ethanol is responsible for an additional $1. Corn prices
have tripled in the past two years, peaking at more than $8 a bushel. The
study did not try to quantify the link between fuels and actual food prices.

The Purdue economists also found that growth in agricultural productivity
has slowed in recent years, even though the demand for farm commodities has
increased. Investments in agricultural research lagged in response to
surpluses in the 1980s and 1990s, according to the report.

"Over the past four to eight years, depending on the commodity, growing
demand and sluggish productivity growth led to the change from a surplus to
a shortage era and set the stage for commodity price increases," the study
states. "Increased investment in agricultural research is important, but it
will not provide a short-term solution."

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