When you're an ex-President, you sometimes have to be careful about using two little words like "food" and "riot" together.
We know this because Bill Clinton is in a bit of hot water after speaking at the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Outlook Forum in Arlington, VA yesterday. The husband of the Secretary of State – who is currently dealing with the American response to unrest in North Aftica and the Middle East – told the attendees that biofuels can affect the political arena by causing food prices to climb. Specifically, he said, "We have to become energy independent but we don't want to do it at the expense of food riots." He also said that the U.S. needs to "make intelligent decisions with three- to five-year time horizons based on the best evidence we have to maximize the availability of good food at affordable prices."
The direct connection between large-scale biofuel production and political turmoil didn't sit well with some in the audience. The Renewable Fuels Association's Matt Hartwig responded by saing, "The driver behind rising food prices has been and remains oil. President Clinton is right that ethanol is a key to American energy security and we would welcome his support in advocating for the continued advancement and evolution of this industry to include a wide variety of feedstocks and technologies." Growth Energy even says that ethanol is the solution to rising gas prices caused by the political unrest, which implies an interesting Ouroboros situation. Oil may play a large role in food prices, but so does ethanol. And since the price of oil impacts the cost of chocolate, shouldn't we really all come together to reduce our independence on the stuff?
[Source: Des Moines Register, Domestic Fuel, Growth Energy | Image: Cliff Owen/AP]