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By Staff | Feb 25, 2011

Newt Gingrich did a brilliant job at the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association meeting, articulating not only the compelling reasons for advancing U.S. biofuel’s policy, but food policy in general. No one can say that Newt’s ideology is not conservative, but no other ideologue goes to the depth of reasoning that Newt does.

Nor do they offer such specific solutions. I don’t know if Newt is the best politician or presidential candidate, but he is the best thinker that the Republicans have, which is a sharp contrast to some of the other candidates circling their field.

You are only pandering if you espouse a belief that you don’t really have, for political expediency. I don’t see Newt Gingrich as pandering. Al Gore admitted that he supported ethanol to get votes. John McCain’s position on ethanol depended upon what state and what election he was running in. He could barely keep track of his biofuel positions as a candidate, but admitted that he loathed ethanol when the election was over.

I actually think that was worse than pandering. Those that bemoan Obama’s term in the White House conveniently forgot what the alternative was. Newt Gingerich is not pandering to biofuel supporters. The position he has taken is fully consistent with previous positions and his legislative record on ethanol. Gingrich sincerely believes in the value of the ethanol industry to the country and has a strong rationale to support his position and could destroy any ethanol opponent that challenged him in a debate of the issue.

But Gingrich’s position on ethanol was not what I wanted to talk about. It is his position on food policy that impressed me. It is ironic today that French President Sarkozy is warning of food riots and food shortages, while his country is at the heart of resistance to biotechnology that is the next green revolution that will feed the world. It’s like Sarkozy would shoot Norman Borlaug and then complain about the poor wheat harvest and no bread.

The Des Moines Register reported on a French colleague’s visit to Iowa, writing, “Iowa agriculture is very impressive. But when asked whether her country or the rest of Europe would ever join the biotech seed revolution, she said, ‘In 10 years, biotech seeds still will be banned in Europe.'”

“We have our tradition for food and we have our appreciation for what it means for the quality of food,” said the European Union’s Agriculture Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos. “Europe’s resistance to agricultural biotechnology has long been viewed as a major obstacle to winning acceptance for biotech crops in Africa.”

It is not about the science in an EU draft document justifying rejections of biotechnology. It reads, “European Union governments could ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops to maintain public order in the face of popular opposition to the technology. Bans could also be justified on public morality grounds, such as religious or philosophical concerns over GE technology, according to a list drawn up by the European Commission as part of plans to let states decide whether to grow or ban GE crops.”The reason that sounds lame and arcane is because it is.

Sarkozy wants to peg food price inflation on speculators, but they are just a scapegoat to the real villain which is EU resistance to technology. They are determined to reject science, remain in the dark ages and complain about the supply and price of food. Newt Gingrich summed it up perfectly saying, “Iowa and the Midwest is poised on the edge of a biological revolution. We have enormous productive capacity and some of the most fertile soils in the world along with rainfall and temperatures which gives us the capacity to produce that which is unrivaled anywhere in the world. You have the potential to use this biological revolution in many, many ways.”

Gingrich also said, “To do that, we need to change the attitude and the psychology of the United States government. We have to move toward a strategy that accelerates new ideas, accelerates new development, accelerates the ability to use our knowledge and translates that knowledge into better health, better food production, better energy production, better materials production and you would be amazed.”

Gingrich mentioned scientific advances from Henry Ford to growing plastics for water bottles from plant materials. “These kinds of things sound like science fiction. But those of you who are doing research know they are not science fiction. And this is why the people who talk about food versus fuel are just plain, flat wrong. It is factually untrue. If anyone has created a problem with food on the planet, it is the European opposition to scientifically developed food.”

Gingrich went on to tout the advances in food production the past 300 years from breeding to GMO. “If it wasn’t for the Europeans suppressing food production, we would today have a surplus of food worldwide.”

This was a brilliant assessment. I believe that he hit the bullseye. I used that simple example so that even Sarah could understand it.

Countries that reject biotechnology will pay more for food. Acres devoted to producing “traditional food” will depress productivity, resulting in less food produced overall and the shortages that will prevail.

The EU is expanding food price inflation, exacerbating food shortages and hurting the poor in Africa and Asia most, so they can eat stupid because they can afford to.

Our next president should understand that.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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