Ethanol and Global Food Issues

Ethanol and Global Food Issues

Postby Oscar » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:50 pm

March 24, 2008

To the Editor,

If we really care about the millions of children living in poorer countries of our world, and the future of our own children who will inhabit the Earth, then we all need to face the reality of depleting energy resources.

If we act immediately, the human race may have time to ameliorate a possible worst case scenario of global warming, including pollution of the air we breath and the water we drink.

The following are just a few of the concerns that many people including scientists have about the use of grains and corn to process into fuel... However, there are those who favor the production of ethanol due to their vested interest in the industry.

The US administration has allocated 6 billion dollars in subsidies to produce ethanol. Our federal government is providing 1.5 billion to the ethanol industry over a 7 year period. There also are some provincial governments providing subsidies and promoting the industry.

In 2007 the US processed 20 per cent of their corn production (about 3.2 billion bushels) for ethanol. These billions of bushels of corn, which could have been used for food, supplied only 1 to 2 per cent of the total amount of fuel that was used up last year in the US!

The adoption of new technologies, plus some reasonable conservation and restraint in the amount of fossil fuel energy wasted on needless activities, could easily have made the ethanol boondoggle unnecessary.

Greatly increased food costs are being reported from diverse areas of the global village. In recent months the cost of food in Afghanistan has risen 50 per cent. That, combined with the terrorism of war, could lead to starvation for many of the poor in that war ravaged land.

Canada professes to be a Christian nation. After celebrating the Resurrection of Easter, it makes one yearn for the resurrection of our military forces as Peace-keepers, instead of seeking to kill those who our political leaders deem are responsible for the mayhem, horrors and suffering of the wars in the Middle East.

Leo Kurtenbach,
Box 268, Cudworth, Sask., S0K 1B0.
Phone: (306) 256-3638
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Posts: 8625
Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:23 pm

Reply from Ag Minister Ritz

Postby Oscar » Thu May 01, 2008 7:28 pm

May 01, 2008 1:10 PM
Subject: Your correspondence to the Honourable Gerry Ritz QTE: 116400

Quote: 116400

Mr. Leo Kurtenbach
Box 268
Cudworth, Saskatchewan S0K 1B0

Dear Mr. Kurtenbach:

Thank you for your email, which was also addressed to several other elected officials, concerning renewable fuels and their potential impact on the food supply and the environment. Please rest assured that I take this matter very seriously.

As the lead minister for the Government of Canada’s renewable fuels strategy, I appreciate being made aware of issues that affect Canada’s biofuels industry. Prime Minister Harper and the Conservative government are committed to supporting the development of a strong domestic biofuels industry. The Canadian Renewable Fuels Strategy consists of four key elements: a regulation to establish demand, support for farmer participation in the industry, support for domestic production, and support for next-generation biofuels. Biofuels offer real benefits for the environment, farmers, and rural communities, in Canada and around the world.

Part of this government’s plan for a cleaner and healthier environment is our commitment to regulate an annual average of five per cent renewable content in gasoline by 2010 and two per cent renewable content in diesel fuel and heating oil by 2012. Our strategy will have important environmental benefits, as these targets are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by four megatonnes per year on a life cycle basis. This is equivalent to the emissions produced by almost one million vehicles. As next-generation renewable fuel technologies make their way into the market, emissions could be further reduced by 90 per cent or more compared to crude oil-based fuels.

To support the development and introduction of these next-generation technologies, we have established the NextGen Biofuels Fund™. This fund provides $500 million to Sustainable Development Technology Canada to invest with the private sector in large-scale demonstration facilities for the production of next-generation renewable fuels. Next-generation renewable fuels, such as cellulosic ethanol, can be made from non-food sources like wheat straw, corn stover, and forestry waste. These fuels provide even greater environmental benefits and will, over time, reduce the need to produce fuel ethanol from cereal grains.

We are also encouraging farmer participation in the biofuels industry through the $200-million ecoAgriculture Biofuels Capital Initiative and the $20-million Biofuels Opportunities for Producers Initiative. For information about these and other programs, please visit

After a period of historically low grains and oilseeds prices, Canada’s grains and oilseeds producers are now benefiting from a period of higher prices. These prices are the result of a number of factors, including increased worldwide production of biofuels, increased demand in developing countries such as China and India, and decreased production in countries such as Australia due to drought and other weather-related occurrences. Higher incomes will allow producers to innovate and increase yields to meet the world’s demands.

With respect to your concerns about food costs, higher prices for grains and oilseeds are not expected to have a significant impact on the price of food in Canada. Grain prices represent only a small portion of the final cost of food products. For example, wheat represents only about 15 cents of the price of a two dollar loaf of bread. Extra costs such as marketing, labour, transportation, and packaging constitute the majority of the price that is seen in grocery stores.

Canada is a significant producer of grains and oilseeds. Given that agricultural productivity in Canada continues to increase through the skills of our farmers and their use of innovative farming practices, I am confident that Canada will be able to meet its targets for biofuels production while providing sufficient agricultural products for consumption. Even when we maximize our biofuels mandates, more than 95 per cent of Canada’s cropland will continue to be used to put food on tables around the world.

When other countries need help, this government steps up to the plate to fight hunger. In fact, Canada is the second-largest donor to the World Food Programme. When the United Nations issued an urgent call to help Afghanistan with rising food prices, Canada provided $10 million in immediate food aid funding. We also contribute $20 million annually in support of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s efforts to address global food insecurity.

I trust that this information clarifies our commitment to building a strong and environmentally responsible bio-based economy that will benefit all Canadians. Again, thank you for sharing your views on this important matter.


Gerry Ritz, PC, MP
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Joined: Wed May 03, 2006 3:23 pm

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