Citing a recent deluge of inaccurate and inflammatory statements made about the nation's corn farmers and the emerging renewable fuels industry, Minnesota's corn farmers call for a return to rationality in discussing the important issues of food, nutrition, energy and national security.
"It's time to get back to finding common ground," says Roger Moore, a corn and soybean farmer from Blue Earth and president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. "I [recently] read where a doctor compared his fight against corn to the fight against tobacco in the 1970s. That's just outrageous, and a little bit sad. It seems to me that it makes a lot more sense to use your time working to end famine caused by wars or fighting for a global vaccination program, rather than bashing some of the most efficient and conservation-minded farmers in the world."
On Wednesday, National Corn Growers Association CEO Rick Tolman expressed outrage at the irresponsible statements on biofuels made by United Nations independent expert Jean Ziegler. Among the egregious statements Ziegler made was the claim that food crops for biofuels are a "crime against humanity."
"Genocide is a crime against humanity," Tolman shot back. "War crimes are a crime against humanity. Any act of persecution to a large scale of people is a crime against humanity. Finding solutions to a global energy problem while continuing to provide food to the world is not a crime against humanity."
Ziegler is calling for a five-year moratorium on biofuels production, although the price of oil is near $94 a barrel.
Tolman says Ziegler could have mentioned the United States is harvesting 13.3 billion bushels of corn—more than enough to help meet the needs of global hunger, offset petroleum use, provide a nutritious feed for livestock and have more than an adequate corn supply on hand.
"It is a travesty when an official makes public statements that are so irresponsible, so inaccurate and so inappropriately damning," he adds. "The statements 'crime against humanity' and 'catastrophe of the massacre (by) hunger in the world' are not to be used lightly or in such an irresponsible manner. If this is an example of how Mr. Ziegler carries out his responsibilities, he should resign his post immediately. Hunger is not something to trifle with and those in positions of responsibility need to be accountable in their statements."
Moore said he and his fellow corn farmers are sometimes baffled by the conflicting and tortured arguments against their livelihood. "When corn prices are high, we're blamed for world hunger because poor countries can't afford to buy corn," he says. "We're also blamed when prices are low, because we're supposedly stifling the development of poorer countries' corn production. Which is it?"
"It's frustrating and unfair for corn farmers to be targeted like this," Moore adds. "It would be great to see more constructive give-and-take discussions on food and fuel issues; but that kind of common sense rarely makes headlines."
Source: Minnesota Corn Growers.