Corn Commentary

Oxford “Leader” Should Apologize for Comments

Food prices did not go up much in 2010 and anticipated increases for the remainder of the year and next should also be about 1 percent, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service.

Ephraim Leibtag, of ERS, says food prices should remain weak and fairly stable across the board even into 2011 when a food price increase of 2 to 3 percent is anticipated through next spring.  This is on a par with historical norms, he says, noting that modest inflation is actually a positive indicator of an improving economy.

The irony of the release of the USDA data and video was not missed by those in agriculture who were troubled by comments yesterday coming from what was billed as a global leadership conference.  Speaking in Naples, Florida Ian Goldin of Oxford University blamed corn prices and increased ethanol usage specifically for higher food prices.

Goldin, a former vice president of the World Bank, proved to be the loosest cannon on the conference’s  energy panel at what was billed as a global leadership conference. “Former” is the key word in his title here because it was a bogus World Bank report that set off the food vs. fuel media hysteria in 2008 that tried to finger corn and ethanol for higher consumer prices. 

World Bank later recanted saying that the report was mistaken and not properly fact-checked,  and it was soaring petroleum prices and wild speculation in the markets topping the list of food price drivers. Apparently Mr. Goldin missed the memo.

Given the rational and thorough debunking of the original World Bank report and their own weak but transparent apology it is bad form for this so called global leader” to continue to disseminate this drivel. It is unthinkable that he did so in such an irresponsible and incendiary manner blaming corn ethanol for causing “people to die of starvation.”