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Farmers, Environmentalists and Anti-Americans

Due to pressure from Midwest farmers and agribusinesses, the United States has imposed a 54-cents-a-gallon tariff to prevent Americans from importing sugar ethanol from Brazil, writes Thomas Friedman in the NY Times (subscribers only):
Yes, you read all this right. We tax imported sugar ethanol, which could finance our poor friends, but we don't tax imported crude oil, which definitely finances our rich enemies. We'd rather power anti-Americans with our energy purchases than promote antipoverty.
However, he also mentions that the Brazilian government is considering the expansion of the ethanol industry, which "could destroy the cerrado, the Brazilian savannah, another incredibly species-rich area" like the Amazon. "No wonder environmental activists are holding a conference in Germany this fall about the impact of biofuels. I could see some groups one day calling for an ethanol boycott - a la genetically modified foods - if they feel biofuels are raping the environment." Friedman, however, thinks ethanol can be promoted and the environment protected at the same time, if all involved parties sit down early.

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Don on :

Is Brazil poor? And are the Saudi's rich? Is Venezuela rich? I suggest a look at some comparative income figures.....

Don on :

Joerg challenged me to back up my question about relative wealth so I looked on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29_per_capita%2C_2006 Brazil came 69th in per-capita income, behind Saudi Arabia (47th) but ahead if Iran (71st), China (87th), and Venezuela (96th). Venezuela is closer to Egypt in per-capita income than it is to Brazil. Let's not forget that per-capita income for all the oil-producing states listed are swollen by historically high oil prices. Brazil makes it's money by producing things - aircraft, autos, farming, etc. When the oil market drops (as it will eventually) Brazil will have enven more of an advantage and will probably pass the Saudis. Do you still care to claim that Brazil is poor, Joerg? Here are the actual figures: 47 Saudi Arabia 14,970 69 Brazil 8,826 71 Iran 8,520 87 People's Republic of China (Mainland) 6,760 96 Venezuela 5,877 109 Egypt 4,498

Assistant Village Idiot on :

The agricultural ttariffs we Americans put on goods are a disgrace. We prop up a very fewer growers within our borders with these protections, and prevent poorer countries from making a living. Sugar is perhaps the worst example. Free market conservatives remain angry at the Republicans that they could not even manage this one very obvious improvement.

ROA on :

A boycott of genetically modified food like Golden Rice? The boycott that caused Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace to say “...The environmentalists' campaign against biotechnology in general, and genetic engineering in particular, has clearly exposed their intellectual and moral bankruptcy. By adopting a zero tolerance policy towards a technology with so many benefits for humankind and the environment, they ... have alienated themselves from scientists, intellectuals, and internationalists. It seems inevitable that the media and the public will, in time, see the insanity of their position.” Golden Rice is genetically engineered to provide additional vitamin a, a vitamin that is missing from the diets of hundreds of million people in Africa and Asia. About seven ounces of this rice per day would provide 100 percent of a child's vitamin A requirement and prevent half a million people a year going blind, plus millions more each year contracting other diseases. An another opportunity for environmentalists to prove how selfish, and evil they really are.

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