Ex-food chief: Crops for fuel is OK

May 5, 2008
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In his five years as executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, Jim Morris saw global hunger from an uncomfortably close vantage point.

So, one might expect him to criticize the idea of turning corn and soybeans into alternative fuels. After all, the ethanol and biodiesel plants popping up in Indiana and elsewhere across the Midwest siphon food away from people who are starving to death at the rate of one every five seconds.

But thatâ??s not what he thinks.

Now president of the Indiana Pacers, Morris still believes food should be used to feed people before being turned into fuel, but he also thinks itâ??s moral to use food for fuels.

â??We have a fair balance,â?? he says. â??Itâ??s not an either-or situation.â??

Morris, who helped launch amateur sports in Indianapolis and once led Lilly Endowment, quickly adds caveats.

More countries need to get over their fears of biotech crops. Genetically engineered crops are hardier and have great potential to increase food production, he says, a notion China and India have begun to embrace but Africa still needs to learn.

And Morris says the food system needs massive investment. Nations need to rid themselves of price controls that dampen farmer incentives to produce. More land needs to be brought into production, and better roads are needed for hauling food and crops. More research into seeds and other technology is needed.

More research also will teach us to turn non-food crops into fuels.

Some steep caveats, maybe.

What do you think?
  • NEW STUDY - Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of soy crops, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.
  • It is fine to use crops (corn, soybeans, whatever) as long as it is driven by the market, not government fiat and subsidies. That is my only request, let the market be the decider, not politicians influenced by who knows what.
  • The corn now going into ethenol manufacturing is only responsable for 5% of the recent food increases . Wall street and the media are against this type of energy for what ever reason. This has nothing to do with the cost of rice, and a lot of the the things we get at the grocery . Plus the byproducts are still being used as feed, contrary to what you hear on TV. We are entering a world food shortage,and as the cost of oil goes up,so does the cost of farming.Our government is too late now in allowing for the drilling of oil in our own country to help solve this problem. Hopefully we can start OFEC (the F stands for food)the same way the mid east has OPEC. and get us back to being a world leader.
    We have supported this oil monopoly way too long. Other wise kiss our American way of life goodbye...

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  1. A couple of issues need some clarification especially since my name was on the list. I am not sure how this information was obtained and from where. For me, the amount was incorrect to begin with and the money does not come to me personally. I am guessing that the names listed are the Principal Investigators (individual responsible for the conduct of the trail) for the different pharmaceutical trials and not the entity which receives the checks. In my case, I participate in Phase II and Phase III trials which are required for new drug development. Your article should differentiate the amount of money received for consulting, for speaking fees, and for conduct of a clinical trial for new drug development. The lumping of all of these categories may give the reader a false impression of physicians just trying to get rich. The Sunshine Law may help to differentiate these categories in the future. The public should be aware that the Clinical Trial Industry could be a real economic driver for Indiana since these revenues supports jobs and new job creation. Nationally, this account for 10-20 billion which our State is missing out on to a large degree. Yes, new drug and technology development has gotten most of the attention (e.g. CTSI, BioCrossroads, etc.) However, serious money is being left on the table by not participating in the clinical trials to get those new drugs and medical devices on the market!!!! I guess that this is not sexy enough for academia.

  2. The address given for the Goldfish Swim Club is the Ace Hardware, is it closing?

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  4. Hey smudge, You're opposed to arresting people for minor crimes? Sounds great! We should only focus on murders and such, right? Let's stand around and wait until someone shoots someone before we act. Whatever we do, we should never question anyone, frisk anyone, or arrest anyone unless they are actively engaged in shooting or stabbing. Very sound!

  5. You guys are being really rude to gays in the comments. (Not all of you, I presume). You need to stop it. Gays have just as much of a right to marry as straight people do. It's not fair how you guys are denying them equal rights. They're acting more human than you'll ever be. We obviously haven't matured since the bible was last updated. Hate the sin, not the sinner. You've all committed a sin at least once in your life. You've lied, you've stolen, etc. (Those are just possibilities). We should have a planet for people that support gay rights and a planet for people that don't. Then, gay people could get married without you bigots interfering with their love life. How would you feel if straights couldn't get married? How would you feel if teenagers were afraid to come out to their parents as straight? If straight people got hate everywhere they went? If straight people were afraid to go out in public, because they feared being judged? It's never going to happen at the rate society is going. You haven't seen the side of me where I act obscene. You're glad my inner demon hasn't been released. I would, but oh no, my comment would be removed because of my very strong emotions about this subject. I love gays, and love how they show their affection for each other. I just ADORE how a state is going to give same-sex couples a marriage license, then changes their mind. (I was obviously being sarcastic there). I just LOVE how society thinks gays are an abomination to our society. You're caring about marriage between two men or two women. That's a small thing. Just grow up, and let them marry. Let them live their lives. You can't make them change their sexuality. You can't make them change their lifestyle. In my opinion, gays are more than welcome to marry. Please, grow up and realize that people should be allowed to marry, even if it's same-sex marriage. You guys are saying that "the bible said gay marriage is wrong." Well, guess what else is wrong? Read Matthew:7 and you'll find out. (I am in no way breaking that. I am saying a fact). I'm stating that gays have just as much of a right to marry as straights do. (: