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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  1. In reality, Lilly is maintaining profit by cutting costs such as Indiana/US citizen IT workers by a significant amount with their Tata Indian consulting connection, increasing Indian H1B's at Lillys Indiana locations significantly and offshoring to India high paying Indiana jobs to cut costs and increase profit at the expense of U.S. workers.

  2. I think perhaps there is legal precedence here in that the laws were intended for family farms, not pig processing plants on a huge scale. There has to be a way to squash this judges judgment and overrule her dumb judgement. Perhaps she should be required to live in one of those neighbors houses for a month next to the farm to see how she likes it. She is there to protect the people, not the corporations.

  3. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/engineer/facts/03-111.htm Corporate farms are not farms, they are indeed factories on a huge scale. The amount of waste and unhealthy smells are environmentally unsafe. If they want to do this, they should be forced to buy a boundary around their farm at a premium price to the homeowners and landowners that have to eat, sleep, and live in a cesspool of pig smells. Imagine living in a house that smells like a restroom all the time. Does the state really believe they should take the side of these corporate farms and not protect Indiana citizens. Perhaps justifiable they should force all the management of the farms to live on the farm itself and not live probably far away from there. Would be interesting to investigate the housing locations of those working at and managing the corporate farms.

  4. downtown in the same area as O'malia's. 350 E New York. Not sure that another one could survive. I agree a Target is needed d'town. Downtown Philly even had a 3 story Kmart for its downtown residents.

  5. Indy-area residents... most of you have no idea how AMAZING Aurelio's is. South of Chicago was a cool pizza place... but it pales in comparison to the heavenly thin crust Aurelio's pizza. Their deep dish is pretty good too. My waistline is expanding just thinking about this!

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