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Clinton Warns More Biofuels Could Mean Food Riots

February 25, 2011
By: Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy and Washington Editor

Addressing hunger and poverty have been key issues for former President Bill Clinton since he left the White House. And that focus has now found him issuing a warning about producing crops for biofuel production. Specifically, Clinton told those at USDA's Annual Outlook Forum that producing more biofuels could bring food riots around the globe.

"If we produce more biofuels, that means less food and that will bring food riots," Clinton said, even while stressing that the U.S. needs to become more energy independent.

So how to accomplish this? Clinton pointed to Brazil as an example, noting they don't tear down the rain forests to produce ethanol from sugarcane. But he also noted that sugarcane was starting to push soybean and cattle producers from their traditional areas to more marginal areas.

"The best thing to do is to say we have to be more energy independent, but we don't want to do it at the expense of food riots," Clinton stated. "We have to make intelligent decisions."

But with his urging to not grow more crops for biofuels, Clinton assured those in agriculture "there's going to be plenty for American farmers to do." A key question needs to be asked, he added, "is there some way to produce food in traditional way and still get a good price for it?"

"We know that the way we produce and consume energy has to change, yet for farmers there are no simple answers," he said. "There is a way for us to do this and to do it right."

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