Food prices here in America and around the world are rising quickly in great part due to the growing demands for corn to make ethanol in order to satisfy government mandates for its use.
Besides higher food prices, however, this form of government bureaucrats picking winners and losers in the energy market is having another unexpected consequence - boosting genetically modified food. Syngenta, a Swiss-based firm, recently got the go-ahead for sales of its genetically modified corn seeds.
Ethanol companies are cheered by the news because the genetically modified seeds are far better suited for growing corn destined to be refined into fuel instead of food. Critics worry that the two radically different strands of corn will inevitably get mixed up on the food chain, with unpredictable health and nutritional results.
What's of more direct interest here at the moment is who in Congress has been getting the big bucks from the ethanol industry. According to MAPLight.org, an analysis of campaign finance data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics two Republicans and a Democrat of particular interest on the House Agriculture Committee among the list of top 10 recipients.
"The committee's ranking Democrat Collin Peterson, D-MN, has taken in $19,500 in contributions, while committee vice-chairman Bob Goodlatte,R-VA, has taken in $19,000," MAPLight.org said.
"Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-OK, sits amongst the top 10 with $11,000 in contributions. The House Agriculture Committee is tasked with oversight of the Department of Agriculture. Contribution figures date from Jan. 1, 2001-Nov 22, 2010"
For the complete list of recipients and additional information from MAPLight, go here.