Thursday, August 2, 2007

Ethanol producers fire back in food vs. fuel debate

..."We're here today to pop the popcorn propaganda bubble," said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

Standing in front of 11 large plastic bags containing 38.5 pounds (17.5 kilograms) of popcorn, Shaw claimed a person could buy that amount directly from a farmer for US$5 (€3.65). He pointed to a bag of movie theater popcorn on a nearby table and said it costs the consumer just as much, if not more.

Some food companies argue that escalating corn prices, sparked by the increasing demand for ethanol, has forced them to raise prices for items containing corn, including meat and dairy products from animals that are fed the grain. It has been dubbed the "food-versus-fuel debate."

When it comes to popcorn, Shaw said, recent claims that movie-goers will pay 25 cents (18 euro cents) more per bag of popcorn because of the ethanol demand is ridiculous.

The US$5 (€3.65) bucket of movie popcorn, he said, contains just .15 pounds (.07 kilograms) of corn before popping. The bucket contained slightly more than a penny (less than a euro cent) of popcorn, he said. Higher corn prices means the moviegoer is getting about 2 cents (1 euro cent) of popcorn per bucket, he said.

From the IHT