The Perspective column, "Ethanol Drives Up Food Costs" by Robert Wisner (March, p. 124) is a story that the Institute of Food Technologists should be parading across headlines all over the country in various news media. This could be the most important story of our time.
Is the threat to our nation’s food supply by managing our demand for oil through a rapid increase in production of ethanol the way we really want to go? Rather than just making ourselves totally dependent on another source of energy that negatively impacts the economics of individuals and families, shouldn’t we truly try to innovate, focus, and reduce oil dependence through fuel cells or other sustainable technology?
What happens if there is a repeat of "the dust bowl" in the heartland and there is no crop available? This plan relies on the availability of corn at the expense of virtually all other crops. It is already impacting Mexico and their staple product of corn tortillas, since they have begun to export their crop to us.
With the increase in corn production comes increased costs for the individual at the grocery store checkout for staples like wheat, dairy, and meats, once again having the worst impact on the segment of the economy that can afford it the least, the poor and middle class who are just trying to get by. What is the difference between that and the cost of gas at the pump going up? It doesn’t seem like we are really solving the real problem by rushing to the ethanol/biofuels solution. What about wind energy, solar, and fuel cells? Let’s invest in a long-term, sustainable solution and not put the burden on the backs of the individual through taxes for more subsidies and higher food prices.
The energy usage by the manufacturing industry, not just individuals driving to work and the store, must be curtailed to reduce our oil dependence. Why shouldn’t industry contribute by investing in alternative energy technology that is a long-term solution?
From a very concerned and engaged IFT member.
—Carey Allen, Research Food Scientist, Gloucester, Mass.
IFT President Dennis Heldman replies:
I happen to agree with your comments about current and future impacts of ethanol use. These developments need to be addressed as part of broad concerns about sustainability.
The IFT leadership has begun to discuss sustainability and the impacts on the food processing sector of the food system. We are looking at global strategies, since sustainability needs to include the developments and attitudes of other countries.
The February issue incorrectly stated on p. 67 that the J.M. Smucker Co. in April 2004 released a new Crisco formulation "made from solid, fully hydrogenated palm oil cut with soybean oil and sunflower oil" that has 0 g of trans fat/serving, compared to 1.5 g/serving in original Crisco. The product was actually formulated with sunflower oil, soybean oil, fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil, and mono and diglycerides—not hydrogenated palm oil.
The February article on pilot plants incorrectly stated on p. 71 that Armfield Ltd. is based in Denison, Iowa. The company is based in Jackson, N.J. (phone 732-928-3332, www.armfield.co.uk). The article also states that the company offers a wide range of modular units, some of which are intended for demonstration or teaching. However, none of the industrial units is intended for demonstration or teaching purposes. Armfield offers a full line of fluid-processing units, plus units for spray drying/chilling, edible oils processing, and carbonation/filling, and aseptic filling and packaging lines.
We regret the errors.