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Bio-Fuels, Hear and Now?

Posted by bobin environment

I believe in bio-fuels and their use as gas for our vehicles in the future; however, I do not believe in corn based products and the impact on our economy, world health and developmental costs.

Where’s the logic in turning food into fuel when it could be used to feed starving families at home and across the world?

I was parked in a farmers’ field in Kansas a year or so ago creating images in America’s heartland when the giant John Deere pulled up beside me and a jovial old-timer climbed down from his lofty cab and welcomed me to the land of Dorothy and Toto.

We leaned against the oversized tires, he chewing on a straw and me squinting into the blinding sun discussing the state of the country and his future as a Kansas farmer.

He enlightened me about a number of scary facts that need to be shared with you the American buying public and tax payers. “How we doing,” I asked. “Not that well,” he responded. “No kids to take over the farm, no farmers left to run them and corporations moving in taking them over by the ton,” he offered.

I asked him to explain and by the time he was done I had decided it was time for me to begin pinching my pennies and saving as much cash as I could for the rainy days ahead. “I’m 74 years old and me and my brother run over 1,000 acres of land ourselves. The kids don’t want to stay here and work hard; they’d rather move to the big city (Kansas City) and work in computers, retail or banking where they make big money, the easy way,” he offered.

So what can we expect for the future, I asked? “You will see our family’s farms being sold to big corporations for a song, because none of our kids want to inherit them. They’d like the money but what can you get for something nobody wants to buy unless you sell it cheap to a big company with lots of money and time to wait you out,” he said forlornly.

I asked him if he and his brother were able to make a good living as wheat and soy bean farmers on the Great Plains. “We do OK but not as well as the fellows who sold their souls to the ethanol companies who have offered our friends an opportunity to earn mega bucks if they’ll grow genetically altered corn for the production of fuel,” he said.

I wondered how much of the crops in the area were committed to the growing of ethanol corn. “Most of it is now and only our 1,000 acres are growing feed and retail corn for human consumption,” he offered.

Is there a significant difference in the return to farmers between ethanol and human consumption corn, I asked. “The ethanol guys are making a killing now because the price they are getting for ethanol corn is considerably more than what we get. We could have bought into that offer as well, but we are old-time guys and believe we should grow corn for food and not for gasoline,” he concluded.

We continued our conversation for the better part of the next hour and no one seemed to be in a rush to go anywhere or do anything at that point. It was like old days for me, sitting around with the boys chewing the fat and doing each other one better with a yarn or two. However, my new friend wasn’t stringing any yarns; he was lamenting the coming of the new dawn in farming and food supply.

British Petroleum (BP) has made a concerted effort to enter the ethanol and bio-fuel arena and putting their money where their mouth is. Their most recent venture in cooperation with the Verenium Corporation will be established in Florida. The new plant will produce twenty-five times more bio-fuels than their pilot project in Mermentau, LA.

BP was thrown out of Russia recently when the Soviets decided to nationalize the company’s oil and gas resources. BP has invested $125 million in Verenium and will assume a 55% stake in the project as well.

So why should we care?

While American ethanol producers are paying exorbitant prices and starving the world of valuable resources for the hungry masses BP has realized that sugar is a better option for the cost effective production of ethanol. First, it will allow for the continued production of human consumption corn to be grown and turned into a life saving resource; second, corn ethanol is extremely expensive to produce and refine; third, corn ethanol is excessively corrosive and cannot be transported in normal tank rail or big rig tank cars; fourth, sugar is economical and very affordable; fifth, sugar is in abundance when imported from Brazil; sixth, sugar ethanol is virtually non-corrosive and can be transported in shipping containers like most fuels; seventh, the Congress must remove the protection they have imposed on the import of sugar from South America. However, the sugar beet growers of the USA will have to wave their strong lobby against the importation of sugar.

Can you imagine that: A lobbying group representing the American Sugar Beet industry has been holding up the importation of cheap sugar for fuel, starving and killing humans worldwide and all because of their hubris and greed.

Will it ever end?

Next time you hear a government bureaucrat talk about world hunger or ethanol, remember the corrupt sugar beet industry, lives they have cost and how much money they have forced you to doll out in additional taxes while they stuff their pockets with earmarks.

I am tired of paying for the corruption going on in Washington and the hypocrisy of the green generation—whackos! You?

Bob Belliveau-Ferrin Lemieux
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