Corn Commentary

World Food Conference to Focus on Biotech and Biofuels

Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer will present a three pronged strategy to deal with rising food prices, climate change and energy security when he travels to Rome next week for the conference on World Food Security being held by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Schafer says the strategy is basically to “provide food and other support to people who are hungry now, direct development assistance to those countries best able to rapidly increase the production of key food staples that can help feed the hungry, and encourage action to address multilateral and country-specific policies that prevent access to food and the technologies that produce food.”

Ed SchaferTo try and encourage greater use of biotechnology, Schafer and Director of U.S. Foreign Assistance Henrietta Fore will host a side event focused on new technologies to showcase developing countries that have moved forward with public investment in adoption of bioengineered products. “Bioengineered crops are one of many situations that need to take place for increasing yields around the country if we’re going to meet the demands of increased consumption,” Schafer says.

Biofuels will most definitely be on the plate at the World Food conference and Schafer is prepared to defend US ethanol production policy. “I would point out that in the United States and in other countries as well, all ethanol production specifically has come from increased yields in the corn crops,” Schafer said. “Our export markets are up in corn out of the United States. The yield increases are taking care of it, and certainly the benefits derived are much more than the 2 to 3 percent that is contributing to the rising inflation in food costs internationally. We think it’s an important initiative, and while people do have some concern I think we can point out the facts here, not the emotions but the facts, that this is not distorting the global price of food. And it’s an important direction we need to go.”

The conference will be held June 3-5.