Food prices are soaring all over the world. The global food chain is reportedly stretched to the limit, fueled by the fact “that more than a third of the corn produced in the U.S is now used to make ethanol.” As a result of such “bio-fuels” subsidies, one of the world’s largest food producers predicts a “global food crisis.”
Unfortunately, the Obama Administration has long pushed ethanol subsidies, even though such subsidies have a history of spawning famines and food riots overseas. For example, the costly climate-change legislation backed by the Administration contained massive ethanol subsidies.
The Administration is now forcing up the ethanol content of gasoline through EPA regulations, heedless of the fact that ethanol makes gasoline costlier and dirtier, increases ozone pollution, and increases the death toll from smog and air pollution. Ethanol production also results in deforestation, soil erosion, and water pollution.
Back in 2008, leading environmentalists lamented the devastating impact of ethanol subsidies on the global environment and the world’s poor. They noted that thanks to ethanol, “deadly food riots” had already “broken out in dozens of nations,” such as “Haiti and Egypt.” And they pointed out that “food-to-fuel mandates are leading to increased environmental damage. First, producing ethanol requires huge amounts of energy — most of which comes from coal. Second, the production process creates a number of hazardous byproducts, and some production facilities are reportedly dumping these in local water sources. . .Most troubling, though, is that the higher food prices caused in large part by food-to-fuel mandates create incentives for global deforestation, including in the Amazon basin. . . huge swaths of forest are being cleared for agricultural development. The result is devastating: We lose an ecological treasure and critical habitat for endangered species, as well as the world’s largest ‘carbon sink.’ . . .the net impact of the food-to-fuel push will be an increase in global carbon emissions.”
By increasing world food prices, ethanol subsidies also fostered Islamic extremism in poor countries like Afghanistan that import much of their food.
Ethanol subsidies are not the only way that the Obama Administration is harming poor people. The Administration is also discouraging poor Americans from purchasing cheap, nutritious food. For example, it has also disparaged the consumption of potatoes, banning white potatoes from the federal WIC program, while allowing WIC money to be spent on far less nutritious things that are starchy, fatty or sugary (like apple sauce, which has no nutrition unless vitamin C is artificially added to it).
The potato is superior to most foods in nutrients per dollar (and per acre of farmland), so much so that “in 2008, the United Nations declared it to be the ‘Year of the Potato.’ This was done to bring attention to the fact that the potato is one of the most efficient crops for developing nations to grow, as a way of delivering a high level of nutrition to growing populations, with fewer needed resources than other traditional crops. In the summer of 2010, China approved new government policies that positioned the potato as the key crop to feed its growing population.” Potatoes provided much of the agricultural surplus that made the Industrial Revolution possible.
Potatoes are more nutritious than other starchy foods like rice and bread, and “are a good source of vitamins.” They have a lot of vitamin C (much more than a banana or an apple), and potassium levels slightly higher than potassium-rich bananas). Potatoes also have all 8 essential amino acids, unlike most other staple foods like corn and beans.
The Obama administration is also using federal funds to subsidize the opening of an International House of Pancakes in Washington, D.C., despite its sugary and fattening entrees, and the development of high-calorie foods that benefit politically connected agribusinesses.