Peak Corn?

Moderators: DrVolin, 82_28, Elvis, Jeff

Peak Corn?

Postby nomo » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:13 pm

Peak Corn? As Wal-Mart Shifts from Petroleum to Corn, Farmers Flee the Crop<br><br>by Ethan Genauer, Philly Beyond Oil<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://thephillyoildrum.blogspot.com/2005/10/peak-corn-as-wal-mart-shifts-from.html">thephillyoildrum.blogspot...-from.html</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>Attended by over 100 companies, this week Philadelphia hosted the inaugural conference of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition. The biggest news of the Oct. 17 - 19 event was made when Wal-Mart executive Matt Kistler announced that the retail giant, which is also America's largest grocery seller, is beginning to switch from petroleum-based to corn-based plastic packaging.<br><br>The first substitution, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, starting Nov. 1, involves 114 million clear-plastic clamshell containers used annually by the retailer for cut fruit and herbs.<br><br>"With this change to packaging made from corn, we will save the equivalent of 800,000 gallons of gasoline and reduce more than 11 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions," said Kistler. "This is a way to make a change, positive for the environment and for business," he said at the Sustainable Packaging Forum.<br><br>The decision comes as high oil and natural gas prices — the sources for most plastics — are ramping up the cost of plastic materials. Kistler did not say whether the new plastic costs more or less than the materials it replaces, but said Wal-Mart expects the price of corn-based plastics to be less volatile than those of petroleum-based plastics, the Inquirer reported.<br><br>But recent reports from America's cornbelt suggest that Wal-Mart's expectation of less volatile prices for corn-based plastics may be wrong. The high price of natural gas has forced farmers to pay record-high costs for fertilizers. Natural gas is the energy source used in 95% of fertilizers to produce its main ingredients, such as ammonia and nitrates. And, compared to wheat and soybeans, corn is the most fertilizer-hungry crop harvested by America's industrial-sized farmers.<br><br>A common response by farmers to the higher fertilizer costs will be to plant less corn, according to an Associated Press story published this week. One Nebraskan farmer said he has decided to plant 25 percent more wheat in the hopes of curbing his consumption of anhydrous ammonia. "It's possible the country will see a drop in corn production next year, which would give way to higher prices at grocery stores months from now," said Bob Young, chief economist of the American Farm Bureau.<br><br>Inevitably, the diminished supply of corn would also extend higher prices to other corn-based products like plastics and fuel. And with demand for biofuel derived from corn, or ethanol, increasing, and no forseeable decline in America's appetite for corn-based foods such as tortillas, breakfast cereals, snack chips, milk and bacon — 57% of American corn is used as feed for livestock — competition between various corn users for limited corn supplies could drive prices up even more. Would these price increases be sufficient to offset the high cost of fertilizer and turn farmers back to corn? Given the inherently volatile nature of farming, the answer to that question seems impossible to predict.<br><br>Ultimately, this means that while Wal-mart's move to corn-based from petroleum-based packaging certainly makes great environmental sense, the long-term economic benefits for the company may be substantially less sure. As it turns out, there is virtually no sector of America's economy that is not dependent upon, and deeply affected by the end of, abundant supplies of cheap fossil fuels.<br><br>As those supplies peak and then begin to dwindle in the near future, one must hope that the diversion of corn to industrial and transportational purposes — like plastic and ethanol — doesn't spell doom for its original and most humanly meaningful use: food.<br><br>After all, the agricultural industry has demonstrated time and again that its core purpose is not to feed people, but to make money. Case in point: the corporate beneficiary of Wal-mart's switch to corn is NatureWorks, a Minnesota-based division of agricultural commodity giant Cargill. <p>--<br>When all else fails... panic.</p><i></i>
User avatar
nomo
 
Posts: 3388
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 1:48 pm
Location: New York City
Blog: View Blog (0)

Re: Peak Corn?

Postby robertdreed » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:29 pm

"57% of American corn is used as feed for livestock..."<br><br>Disgraceful.<br><br>And then, the livestock pens foul the rivers...that depletes the anadramous fisheries resources, like the striped bass fisheries in the rivers of North Carolina and Virginia.<br><br>Madness. Fisheries resources are like free food, compared to agriculture and factory livestock pens. Just maintain the river flows, keep the water clean and the spawning beds clear, and harvest. It's a turnkey operation. <p></p><i></i>
robertdreed
 
Posts: 1560
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 11:14 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

see here's the thing

Postby glubglubglub » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:45 pm

if they're just using up 'surplus' corn that's perhaps actually a net advantage, but because the oil->corn->plastics adds a middle step to the usual oil->plastics conversion I'm guessing this is probably a net loss, regardless of the article contents.<br><br>I look forward to the day genetic engineers create the tree with leaves of steak and chicken breast; it'll be ugly but damn efficient at protein production, at least compared to the natural way.<br><br>robert: want to take bets on what percent of american livestock have mad cow? Cause 57% * that number = the amount of corn producing dangerous prions...and I've never understood how people can prefer beef et al to fish. <p></p><i></i>
glubglubglub
 
Posts: 328
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 5:14 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

We're vegetarian...

Postby marykmusic » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:49 pm

...except for eating fish. Proper fish, preferably wild-caught.<br><br>It's sort of like Steve Martin said years ago: "O don't eat meat, 'cause I don't want to kill animals... except for fish. I LOVE to kill fish!" --MaryK <p></p><i></i>
marykmusic
 
Posts: 1502
Joined: Fri May 20, 2005 12:23 am
Location: Central Arizona
Blog: View Blog (0)

Mad Cow

Postby nomo » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:50 pm

This probably merits its own thread, but your mentioning of Mad Cow reminded me of something I'd been meaning to ask: Does anyone know, or know of reasonable sources, about the status of that disease in the USA? Are we really supposed to believe that so far, only one cow has been found with the disease, and that one cow just so happened to come from Canada? <p>--<br>When all else fails... panic.</p><i></i>
User avatar
nomo
 
Posts: 3388
Joined: Tue Jul 26, 2005 1:48 pm
Location: New York City
Blog: View Blog (0)

corn doesn't produce prions

Postby maggrwaggr » Mon Oct 24, 2005 7:20 pm

where do you get your info that corn produces prions? <p></p><i></i>
maggrwaggr
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 4:59 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

I was unclear

Postby glubglubglub » Mon Oct 24, 2005 7:22 pm

if mad cows are eating that corn, metaphorically they're corn-burning prion-producing machines. <p></p><i></i>
glubglubglub
 
Posts: 328
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2005 5:14 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

I quit eating commercial beef

Postby maggrwaggr » Mon Oct 24, 2005 7:59 pm

and will now only eat grass-fed.<br><br>I'm amazed that anyone will still trust their government regarding anything, especially mad cow.<br><br>I just assume that mad cow is prevalent here. Who's gonna tell me otherwise? <p></p><i></i>
maggrwaggr
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat May 07, 2005 4:59 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)

vat-grown meat

Postby robertdreed » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:37 pm

It's become possible to grow meat in laborotory vats, something I anticipated years ago. Granted, the product supposedly has the texture of spam, but it's a start.<br><br>I bet it would make a passable jerky. <br><br>I have no idea whether it's energy efficient to create animal protein like that. My guess is- not yet. <p></p><i></i>
robertdreed
 
Posts: 1560
Joined: Wed May 18, 2005 11:14 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

omg

Postby wintler » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:39 pm

High fertiliser & diesel costs are seeing less crop area planted around the world - wasteful oil & gas use is literally taking food off the table. Don't expect this obvious truth to filter thru to Western consumers anytime soon tho.<br><br>On BSE in USA...<br><br>"USDA Misleading American Public about Beef Safety <br>December 24, 2003 by Michael Greger, M.D.<br>It is not surprising that the U.S. has mad cow disease given our flaunting of World Health Organization recommendations.[1] What is surprising, however, is that we actually found a case given the inadequacy of our surveillance program, a level of testing that Nobel laureate Stanley Prusiner, probably the world's leading expert on these diseases, calls simply "appalling."[2] Europe and Japan follow World Health Organization guidelines[3] and test every downer cow for mad cow disease[4]; the U.S. has tested less than 2% of downers over the last decade.[5] Most of the U.S. downer cows, too sick or injured to even walk, end up on our dinner plates.[6] ..."<br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.organicconsumers.org/madcow/Greger122403.cfm">www.organicconsumers.org/...122403.cfm</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> <br><br><br>"What is the evidence for a cover-up in Mad Cow Disease? <br>1. As of Jan 6, 2001, the Centers for Disease Control, a government Public Health organization, published on their web site: "BSE has not been shown to exist in the United States." "According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services of the United States Dapartment of Agriculture, BSE has NOT been detected in the United States, despite active surveillance efforts for several years." However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) DOES NOT actively monitor the disease!<br><br>The REAL truth is: "A year before BSE was even reported in Britain in 1985, Richard Marsh, Chairman of the Department of Veterinary Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was alerting dairy practitioners of the possibility that a "previously unrecognized scrapie-like disease in cattle" existed in the United States. The clue came in 1981 when "Mad Mink Disease" wiped out a population of minks in Wisconsin who hadn't eaten any sheep at all. The meat portion of their diet consisted almost exclusively of dairy cattle called "Downers," an industry term describing cows which collapse for unknown reasons and are too sick to stand up.<br><br>BUT - the beef industry claims that "Downer Cows" DO NOT have Mad Cow Disease! YET - when these Downer Cows were ground up and fed to mink - the mink DEVELOPED "Mad Mink Disease!"<br><br>In June 1992, a USDA consultant group decided that changes in the research program to accommodate the possibiity that BSE was already present in the U.S. were, "not appropriate at this time." The panel that made this decision included representatives of the National Milk Producers Federation, the National Renderers Association, the American Sheep Industry Association and the National Cattlemen's Association. ..."<br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.drday.com/madcow.htm">www.drday.com/madcow.htm</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br><br>Theres plenty of poor info out there too, e.g. <br>"Only one animal, out of the 35 million slaughtered in the United States every year, has been infected with BSE. Even if more cases were to be discovered, the prions which cause BSE reside only in the central nervous system--the brain, spinal cord and other nervous tissue--which are not eaten by humans. "<br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.mad-cow-facts.com/about.htm">www.mad-cow-facts.com/about.htm</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> ("for latest info on..")<br><br>Prions, the supposed infective agent of BSE (and scrapie) HAVE been found in muscle tissue, not just nervous system.<br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=000D0335-6A1E-10AE-AA1E83414B7F0000">www.sciam.com/article.cfm...414B7F0000</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>I still eat beef occasionally, but 'recycling' animal flesh is banned here (Aust.) and we have v.few feedlots anyway (and those we do are for export). I never eat meat when out of the country. <p></p><i></i>
wintler
 
Posts: 258
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2005 5:28 am
Blog: View Blog (0)

Two of my favorite bumper stickers...

Postby banned » Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:08 am

"Save a cow. Eat a vegetarian."<br><br>and<br><br>"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?"<br><br><!--EZCODE EMOTICON START :rollin --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/roll.gif ALT=":rollin"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> <p></p><i></i>
banned
 
Posts: 912
Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2005 5:18 pm
Blog: View Blog (0)


Return to Energy Issues

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests