Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Another Downside of Ethanol: Haitians Eating Dirt

Making mud cookies in Port-au-Prince, Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies. Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. Prices for basic ingredients such as corn and wheat are also up sharply, and the increasing global demand for biofuels is pressuring food markets as well. The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports and food prices are up 40 percent in places.

Response from the ethanol lobby? "Let them eat dirt."

21 Comments:

At 1/30/2008 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our debt based economy needs all the government subsidies it can get, get off it all ready.

 
At 1/30/2008 3:37 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

WTF are you talking about anonymous?? How can you possibly justify spending our money on propping up an industry based on energy innefficient and expensive fuel? Especially, since the whole presmise of your post seems to be we spend too much and are in debt.

Honestly, I don't even know how Mark's blog even attracts these people. Are you his liberal students? I mean Mark's biggest exposure is on Kudlow. You would think these blog's comment threads would be full of supply siders. Instead, we get this:

"Our debt based economy needs all the government subsidies it can get"

 
At 1/30/2008 4:23 PM, Blogger rufus said...

The field corn that ethanol is made from is selling, today, for about %0.09/lb. That would lead me to assume that the difference between the "dirt" cookie, and one made with corn would be less than One Penny. Yeah, anyone can see that ethanol is the culprit, here.

BTW, a gallon of ethanol, produced by a Modern plant, contains an input of approx. 34,000 btus of nat gas, and diesel. The newer plants in the planning stages will get that down to less than 20,000 btus. This includes all of the energy used to make the fertilizer, plant, cultivate, and harvest the crop, and refine the ethanol.

The final product contains 76,000 btus, and, as was proven by the Univ of N Dakota, and Mn State at Mankatow, can deliver the SAME performance as 116,000 btus of gasoline in a properly tuned engine. In fact, 3, out of the 4 cars they tested outperformed, mileage-wise, on an ethanol blend compared to gasoline.

Times are a'changin, boys. Time to get current.

 
At 1/30/2008 6:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"as was proven by the Univ of N Dakota, and Mn State at Mankatow"

These studies were conducted in farm states?

The results are therefore suspect.

Who paid for the studies? What were their motives? Did the researchers find the results they were paid to find?

I don't know ....... sounds pretty slippery to me.

 
At 1/30/2008 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So environmentalists in the U.S. get to drive around in their bio cars while Haitians eat mud and die of god-knows-what intestinal diseases.

At least we're reducing pollution - unless rotting Haitian corpses are considerd a pollutant.

 
At 1/30/2008 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love to see the link on that one, Rufus. Is it a 10% blend or E85?

While we can agree that commodity pricing is not solely driven by ethanol production ie. oil, natural gas, orange juice, iron ore, gold, wheat, etc., the diversion of 15% of the U.S. corn crop to ethanol production has affected the world price of corn.

As well as feeding humans and animals, corn is used in many forms in other food products ie. sweetener in soft drinks, a thickening agent, an emulsifier.

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/05/22/corn.html

With regard to whether the world's poor can afford a penny, I suggest you read your Unicef box and find out what a penny can buy.

 
At 1/30/2008 6:30 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Anon: They tested ordinary cars using various blends. Two of the cars achieved superior mileage using E20 (including a flex-fuel Impala that got 15% better mileage using the twenty percent blend,) and one, a toyota, achieved slightly better mileage when running E30.

Test Results

 
At 1/30/2008 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Rufus,

With regard to poverty in Haiti, this report from 2004 gives some idea of what conditions are like in this country:

http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/05/22/corn.html

The report includes this passage:
"The first observation to be made is that the data confirm Haiti's position as the poorest country in the Western hemisphere. Three quarters of the population are poor and over half - four and a half million persons - is extremely poor, which is a higher poverty incidence than any other country in the region and comparable to the poorest African countries"

Extremely poor were those living on $1.00 per day.

 
At 1/30/2008 7:11 PM, Blogger rufus said...

EPA Study explains why ethanol can give more power, and fuel efficiency than either diesel, or gasoline.

Hint: a large part of it is OCTANE (the ability to resist knocking at high compression.

 
At 1/30/2008 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Response from the ethanol lobby? "Let them eat dirt."
I would be interested in the source of this QUOTE. Get real.

 
At 1/30/2008 7:56 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Houston, I think we've found the Problem.

From the AP Article:

"Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared to food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day and a tiny elite controls the economy."

AP Article

 
At 1/30/2008 8:11 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Them "Handfulls of Elites" will kill you every time.

If I'm reading This right, rice is about $0.07/lb. How many pounds do you suppose are in "2 cups?"

 
At 1/30/2008 8:16 PM, Blogger rufus said...

I'm guessing "two cups" would be between 1/4, and 1/2 lb., or about $0.02 - $0.04 on the international market.

I've got a hunch it's not the ethanol producers that are saying, "Let them eat Dirt."

 
At 1/31/2008 10:11 AM, Blogger Marko said...

Rufus, the prices you are quoting - are they commoditiy prices? If so, I guess if a group of haitians can buy a few hundred tons of that corn and have it delivered by the magic idiot invisible free airplane company, then they can get it for that price (they wouldn't be able to borrow the money since capital markets are badly broken in Haiti).

Have you tried to buy a one pound bag of corn in a U.S. grocery store? Did it cost 9 cents? And that is in a country with an efficient delivery system. Give me a break. I suppose you think they are eating mud cakes because evil fat capitalists like me aren't paying enough taxes.

 
At 1/31/2008 11:20 AM, Blogger rufus said...

Marko, ethanol production affects the Wholesale price of corn (as does the Catastrophic Crop Failure in the World's second largest corn producer (China,) this year.

What I AM saying is that a cookie made from Corn, or Rice, probably increased in cost by about 1/2 cent as a result of ethanol production.

An ex. closer to home: That 14 oz box of corn flakes in your pantry increased in price by about Two and a Half Cents due to the higher cost of corn. Any other increases came from higher transportation costs, marketing, processing, opportunistic pricing, etc.

 
At 1/31/2008 11:24 AM, Blogger rufus said...

I wrote par. 2, poorly. I should have said: That cookies increased in price by about 1/2 cent as a result of Higher Wholesale Prices of Corn.

These prices were about $0.06/lb before word got out of China's Devastating Crop Loss.

 
At 1/31/2008 11:28 AM, Blogger rufus said...

BTW, did you miss This part of the Story?

Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.

The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium.

 
At 1/31/2008 2:03 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

rufus, what about the price pressure on other food products that have been caused by farmers turning away from growing their traditional mix of products and devoting more attention to corn.

 
At 1/31/2008 2:03 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

rufus, what about the price pressure on other food products that have been caused by farmers turning away from growing their traditional mix of products and devoting more attention to corn.

 
At 1/31/2008 2:54 PM, Blogger rufus said...

Well, we looked at Rice. Wheat, and Soybeans track about the same.

Guys, there is an incredible amount of arable land lying fallow in the world. ex. Brazil has more arable land lying fallow than we have under cultivation.

We are, presently, paying farmers to hold 39 Million acres out of cultivation (no, that number hasn't changed an iota in the last two years.) Europe held 10% of it's Wheat-land out of production last year. Don't even think about Africa.

We increased Corn production last year by more than the amount of acreage that was consumed by ethanol.

What happened, to a large extent, was massive crop failures in China, and Australia, along with disappointing harvests in other countries such as India, and Argentina (that global warmening is freezing the Argentines' arses off.)

BTW, A serious study concluded that a $1.00 increase in the price of gasoline had between 2, and 3 times the effect of a One Dollar increase in the price of corn

Other "experts" have stated the proposition that the 8 Billion Gal/Yr of ethanol that we're using has lowered the cost of gasoline by about $0.45.

 
At 9/16/2009 9:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rufus having seen where these people sell these "cookies" and worked at the clinics that attempt to treat those eating them I believe your idea is very distorted. I am so astonished that for most of this I thought you were joking. When you quote that the Haitian pregnant women make the pies for their properties as an antacid...you are referencing mostly 16 year old girls with no education whatsoever. These women feed these pies to their children because their children are hungry with stomachs bulging from malnourishment. These are not a treat or a native backwoods remedy; this is a desperate measure by mothers clueless as to how to stop their children from crying. Marko's comments are a little more to the heart of the problem. While there is an elite it has been years of corporate and 1st world oppression that have put them in power and depleted the Haitian resources.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home