Monday, May 19, 2008

Secretary of Ag lifts vail from Anti-Ethanol Movement

The US Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer gave his two cents today about the recent backlash against corn-based ethanol. The secretary released evidence of a concerted effort by food-manufacturers to discredit ethanol in the arena of public opinion and to lobby Congress to repeal to recently passed ethanol mandate. Schafer released documents outlining how the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which governs such food giants as Coca-Cola and General Mills, hired a public relations firm to work behind the scenes to increase public perception that ethanol is a bad product in terms of food.
This by itself is disturbing but not wrong given that special interest groups lobby Congress for all sorts of reasons, including groups linked to ethanol. The problem is when these groups use false or misleading data to try and sway public opinion. Scott Openshaw was interviewed for the original story in the Des Moines Register. Openshaw is a representative for the Grocery Manufacturers and admitted that even though food price increases aren't wholly related to ethanol, it is the only part of the equation that Congress can do anything about.
This is a problem because they are using unfounded facts to scare the public into believing that corn can only go to EITHER food or fuel and not both. Interestingly, Edward Lazear, the White House's chief economic adviser told a Senate committee last week that even though world food prices have increased 43% in one year, the increase in cost due to ethanol only accounts for 3%. Given all of ethanol's other benefits, including keeping more American dollars here in the US and improving the income generated for the farm economy, I would say that special interest groups such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other groups that would remain in the dark to sway public opinion should be exposed for the liars that they are.
I'm just glad that we are finally starting to see public officials point out that the recent move against ethanol isn't coincidence at all.

For the original DM Register article, follow the link below:

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