As food prices soar, and rationing of such things as rice begin, America's media are finally starting to wake up to the inconvenient truth that ethanol is not the energy panacea folks like Nobel Laureate Al Gore proclaim.
Leading the charge is conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck, who invited the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Iain Murray on his program Tuesday to discuss the looming crisis.
What follows is a partial transcript of this interview provided by the Science and Public Policy Institute:
GLENN BECK, HOST: Iain Murray is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He has a new book out called The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Don't Want You to Know About -- Because They Helped Cause Them. What a surprise. Iain is on the phone with us now. Hi, Iain, how are you?
IAIN MURRAY, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: Hi, Glenn, I'm doing very well, thanks.
BECK: Congratulations on the book and we wish you the best with it. Stu is a big fan of yours. I'm sorry. He is our global warming expert on the show and he's a big fan of yours and says that you nail it every single time. Let me start with the food prices that people are experiencing right now where we have milk and bread going up between 11 and 25% in the last year, global food prices up 83%. How's this tied to ethanol?
MURRAY: Well, because as you said, burning off food as fuel. In a recent study from the World Bank of all places that showed that every extra grain of corn that has been harvested in this country, planted and harvested in this country, the additional grain since 2005 has gone not to feed people but into our gas tanks. The World Bank also said that 50% of the fuel price -- of the food price riots around the world has been due to biofuels policies. Those are staggering numbers. This is having a real effect on food, especially for the poorest of the world.
BECK: When we first started talking about ethanol and I did my homework on ethanol and I realized this is the biggest scam in the world and I talked about biofuels. You cannot burn your fuel supply -- or your food supply for fuel. This is a global catastrophe. I've talked about how, how are we going to starve and keep in the dark the places in Africa and the emerging world because we're telling them they can't have our lifestyle, how, Iain, does this kind of thinking not create, well, what the UN is now calling, what is it, crimes against humanity?
MURRAY: Yes, that's the UN high commission on refugees. He's saying that the biofuels laws around the world not just in America but in Europe as well are a crime against humanity and it's interesting how a few -- about a year ago the high commission on refugees and others was saying, oh, well, global warming is causing a real problem. Now they suddenly realize as we're taking steps to try and deal with global warming that that's creating a far, far greater calamity, one that's here right now. Haitians are being reduced to eating cakes made with bleach and if you remember what happened in Haiti in the early Nineties, we're looking as if we're going to do that all over again and there's going to be a failed state right on our doorstep and we are partly responsible for it this time.
GLENN: We have riots now, food riots in Mexico, at least that's what I heard yesterday. I haven't seen the story myself. Is that true? Can you verify that?
MURRAY: There have been food protests certainly. I don't think they were quite riots in Mexico because as the price of grain causes increase here, the Mexicans have been exporting more grain. So that means fewer tortillas and tortillas are an essential part of the Mexican diet. At the same time they are clearing the agave fields to grow corn. So that means less tequila. So less tequila, less tortillas. This is a big problem. So for a country where those items are so culturally important.
Spot on, Iain. Those interested in more on this subject should read Murray's book.
Furthermore, our friends at the Heritage Foundation are also on top of this looming crisis. A few weeks ago, Ben Lieberman wrote the following:
America's energy policy has been on an ethanol binge, and now the hangover has begun. The federal renewable fuels mandate is an unfolding failure, and more Members of Congress are taking notice. If repeal of the mandate is not yet possible, Congress should at least freeze ethanol use at current levels while the nation reassesses its renewable fuels policy.
Do yourself a favor: read the whole thing.
Moving forward, as energy and food prices continue to skyrocket, there's no question that this will be a tremendous focus for the press in the weeks and months to come, especially during a presidential election year.
Of late, media have indeed been presenting ethanol as part of the problem. Are they giving this enough attention yet? Probably not, but they're coming around.
With this in mind, considering what a hot potato this issue is, it is going to be fascinating to watch how this food crisis is reported as we get closer to Election Day, and whether or not the press will honestly present all sides of this matter, or, more predictably, figure out a way to blame the entire problem on President Bush and the Republicans.