The UN has given mixed reviews to biofuels that produce energy from agricultural products. They may be counter-productive for the environment. America's corn farmers are reaping a financial harvest from ethanol. Is it really cleaner and cheaper? What does it mean for the price of food? Also, next week's Middle East peace summit a new study says it’s healthy to put on a little weight. Will that change American standards of beauty and fashion? (This archived edition of To the Point will not air live on KCRW as it will be pre-empted by special holiday programming.)
FROM THIS EPISODE
Condoleezza Rice has said that "failure is not an option" at next week's Annapolis Conference on the Middle East. "At stake," contends the Secretary of State, "is nothing less than the future" of the entire region. The most hawkish of American Jews are opposed, but Israeli officials call it a "golden opportunity." So where are the mainstream Jewish groups whose missions call for support of the Israeli government? Ori Nir is a spokesman for Americans for Peace Now.
Two-thirds of Americans are now overweight, producing concern about epidemics from various ailments. However, while obesity does increase the risk of dying from diabetes or kidney disease, it does not make cancer or heart disease more likely and extra pounds actually may protect against other causes of death. That's from reviewing decades of government of government studies, as reported recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Peter Brown is a professor of anthropology and global health at Emory University.
Peter J. Brown, Emory University
The rush is on for biofuels: to end dependence on oil, help solve global warming and create jobs for the rural poor. Corn-belt farmers are giving thanks today for ethanol, which brings incentives and subsidies from states and the federal government. But last May, the UN reported that biofuels may cause more environmental problems than they solve, as well as increasing the price of food. On this archived edition of To the Point, we weigh the pros and cons of energy from agricultural products. Is it really cleaner and cheaper? Is the US moving too fast?
John Coequyt, Energy Policy Specialist, Greenpeace
Jill Euken, Bio-Industrial Products Specialist, Iowa State University Extension
Dennis Langley, CEO, E3 BioFuels
Juli Niemann, Oil Analyst, Smith, Moore & Company
Rick Tolman, CEO, National Corn Growers Association