LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||16/JAN/2006 4:09 PM|
|Assunto:||Petróleo que não petróleo|
Olá Pessoal, aqui eh um artigo de nytimes sobre do futuro de
'ethanol', qual o Brasil esta tentando fazer muito. Creara mais fome?
their best guesses about how much food the world will demand in the
coming year, and then decide how many acres of corn to plant, and how
many of soybeans.
But this year is different. Now it is not just the demand for food
that is driving the decision, it is also the demand for ethanol, the
fuel that is made from corn.
Some states are requiring that ethanol be blended in small amounts
with gasoline to comply with anti-pollution laws. High oil prices are
dragging corn prices up with them, as the value of ethanol is pushed
up by the value of the fuel it replaces.
"We're leaning more toward corn," said Garold Den Herder, a farmer who
cultivates 2,400 acres in a combination of corn and soybeans and is on
the board of directors of the Siouxland Energy and Livestock
Cooperative, which opened an ethanol plant here in late 2001. Last
year a bushel was selling for about $2 here, but near the plant it was
about 10 cents higher.
Farmers expect it to go higher soon if oil prices stay high. Ethanol
was up to $1.75 a gallon, last year, from just over $1 the year
The rising corn prices may be good news for farmers, but they are
worrying some food planners.
"We're putting the supermarket in competition with the corner filling
station for the output of the farm," said Lester R. Brown, an
agriculture expert in Washington, D.C., and president of the Earth
Policy Institute. Farms cannot feed all the world's people and its
motor vehicles as well, Mr. Brown said, and the result is that more
people will go hungry.
Others say that the price of goods that have corn as an ingredient,
including foods like potato chips or Danish pastries, will rise.
But Robert C. Brown, a professor of mechanical engineering at Iowa
State University and a specialist in agricultural engineering, said
the use of corn for nonfood purposes sounded harsher than it was. "The
impression is that we're taking food out of the mouths of babes,"
Professor Brown said. In fact, corn grown in Iowa is used mostly to
feed farm animals or make corn syrup for processed foods.
And Bernie Punt, the general manager of the Siouxland plant, said,
"It's not as big a loss as what it seems like," pointing out that the
corn remnants that come out of the other end of the plant were used
for animal feed.
A global shift to farm-based fuel could reduce the need for oil and
slow climate change. But Lester Brown is not alone in worrying about
the effect on world hunger. For 20 years, the International Food
Policy Research Institute, a nonprofit group in Washington, has
maintained a computer model to predict food supplies, based on
population changes, farm policies and other factors.
Until now, the institute's analysis had included the price of oil and
natural gas only as a factor in production costs, including the price
of making fertilizer, running a tractor or hauling food to markets.
But last year, after Joachim von Braun, the director of the institute,
went to Brazil and India, both of which make vehicle fuel from plants,
he told his economists to change the model, taking into account the
demand for energy from farm products.
Even a small shift could have big effects, Mr. von Braun said, because
"the mouth of your car is a monster compared to your family's stomach
"I do not just expect somewhat higher food prices, but new instability
as well," he said in an interview. "In the future, instability of
energy prices will be translated into instability in food prices."
Gustavo Best, the energy coordinator at the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization, said growing crops for energy could provide
new opportunities for small farmers around the world and finance the
development of roads and other valuable infrastructure in poor rural
But, Mr. Best added, "definitely there is a danger that the
competition can hit food security and food availability."
Some experts scoff at the idea of corn shortages, but others say it is
possible. Wendy K. Wintersteen, the dean of the College of Agriculture
at Iowa State University, said that possibly as early as this summer,
"we will have areas of the state we would call corn deficient,"
because there will not be enough for livestock feed - the biggest use
of corn here - and ethanol plants.
"It's a hard thing to imagine in Iowa," Ms. Wintersteen said.
Eventually, experts say, American corn exports could fall.
Nationwide, the use of corn for energy could result in farmers'
planting more of it and less wheat and cotton, said Keith J. Collins,
chief economist of the Department of Agriculture. But the United
States is paying farmers not to grow crops on 35 million acres, to
prop up the value of corn, he said, and much of that land could come
back into production.
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