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?
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  • 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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