a recent article on ethanol that is one-dimensional, one-sided …">

(Posted Fri. Feb 10th, 2012)

By Rick Tolman


CEO, National Corn Growers Association




Feb. 10:  A writer for Fortune magazine appears to want to make his journalistic fortune with stories that betray a lack of preparation, depth and balance. What else would explain a recent article on ethanol that is one-dimensional, one-sided and full of personal opinions and petty biases?


The only source the reporter cites in his page-long screed in the Feb. 6 issue of the magazine is someone he hyped in an earlier article as an “investing sage” and who – what do you know? – has invested in a biofuels plant that would compete with corn ethanol. To this person, ethanol is “diabolical” and could lead to starvation. While this investor attacks the Renewable Fuel Standard, his own biofuels plant will benefit greatly from it.


Such is what passes for journalism these days. It would be nice to have the ear of a reporter at a magazine like Fortune, and feed him little comments he can weave into an article that will benefit one’s own investments.


The facts about the so-called “food-fuel dilemma” are these: There isn’t one. In the past several years, the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Texas A&M University, the World Bank, even the British government, looked for direct links between ethanol and rising food prices and found little to no connection between the two, certainly not the “ethanol starves the poor” conclusion our opponents claim continuously.


Even at $6 a bushel, corn’s a well-valued food ingredient. When you factor in all the other costs, especially energy, and add a generous heap of commodity market speculation, you find a lot of other causes that are far more serious.


If you read the Fortune story online at the link above, enjoy the comments underneath it. Some are spot on. This is always a good opportunity to join the fray and let yourself be heard.