Goodbye Petrodollar, Hello Agri-Dollar?

Tyler Durden's picture

When it comes to firmly established, currency-for-commodity, self reinforcing systems in the past century of human history, nothing comes close to the petrodollar: it is safe to say that few things have shaped the face of the modern world and defined the reserve currency as much as the $2.3 trillion/year energy exports denominated exclusively in US dollars (although recent confirmations of previously inconceivable exclusions such as Turkey's oil-for-gold trade with Iran are increasingly putting the petrodollar status quo under the microscope). But that is the past, and with rapid changes in modern technology and extraction efficiency, leading to such offshoots are renewable and shale, the days of the petrodollar "as defined" may be over. So what new trade regime may be the dominant one for the next several decades? According to some, for now mostly overheard whispering in the hallways, the primary commodity imbalance that will shape the face of global trade in the coming years is not that of energy, but that of food, driven by constantly rising food prices due to a fragmented supply-side unable to catch up with increasing demand, one in which China will play a dominant role but not due to its commodity extraction and/or processing supremacy, but the contrary: due to its soaring deficit for agricultural products, and in which such legacy trade deficit culprits as the US will suddenly enjoy a huge advantage in both trade and geopolitical terms. Coming soon: the agri-dollar.

But first, some perspectives from Karim Bitar on CEO of Genus, on what is sure to be the biggest marginal player of the agri-dollar revolution, China, whose attempt to redefine itself as a consumption-driven superpower will fail epically and very violently, unless it is able to find a way to feed its massive, rising middle class in a cheap and efficient manner. But before that even, take note of the following chart which takes all you know about global trade surplus and deficit when narrowed down to what may soon be that all important agricultural (hence food) category, and flips it around on its head.

Karim Bitar on China:

Structurally, China is at a huge disadvantage as it accounts for 20% of the world’s population, but only 7% of arable land. Compare that with Brazil which has the reverse of those ratios. What that does for a country like China is to incentivise the adoption of technification. Let’s look at their porcine market, which represents 50% of global production and consumption. In China, to slaughter roughly 600 mn pigs per year, which is about six times the demand in the US, they have a breeding herd of about 50 mn animals. In the US, the comparable number is only about 6 mn so there is a huge productivity lag.


Owing to its structural disadvantages, China is much more focused on increasing efficiency. For that, it needs to accelerate technification. So, we’re seeing a whole series of government incentives at a national level, a provincial level and a local level, focusing on the need to move toward integrated pork production because that’s a key way to optimise total economics, both in terms of pig production, slaughtering, processing and also actually taking the pork out into the marketplace.


The Chinese government is important as a customer to us because of its clarity of vision on food security. It has seen the Arab Spring, and it is cognisant of the strong socio-political implications of higher food prices. Pork prices could account for about 25% of the CPI, so it knows it can be a major issue. It’s because of all these pressures, that China is more focused on responding to the food challenge. It’s a sort of a burning platform there.


...Take milk production in China and India. China is basically trying to leapfrog and avoid small-scale farming by adopting a US model. In the US, you tend to have very large herds. Today about 30% of US milk production is from herds of 2,000 plus, and we expect that to reach 60% within the next five years. Today in China, there are already several hundred dairy herds of over 1,000. However in India, there’ll be less than 50. The average dairy herd size is closer to five, so it’s very fragmented. So the reality is that a place like China, because of government policies, subsidies and a much more demanding focused approach to becoming self-sufficient, has a much greater ability to respond to a supply challenge rapidly.

The problem for China, and to a lesser extent India, however one defines it, is that it will need increasingly more food, processed with ever greater efficiency for the current conservative regime to be able to preserve the status quo, all else equal. And for a suddenly very food trade deficit-vulnerable China, it means that the biggest winners may be Brazil, the US and Canada. Oh and Africa. The only question is how China will adapt in a new world in which it finds itself in an odd position: a competitive trade disadvantage, especially its primary nemesis: the USA.

So for those curious how a world may look like under the Agri-dollar, read on for some timely views from GS' Hugo Scott-Gall.

Meaty problems, simmering solutions

What potential impacts could a further re-pricing of food have on the world? Why might food re-price? Because demand is set to rise faster than supply can respond. The forces pushing demand higher are well known, population growth, urbanisation and changing middle class size and tastes. In terms of economic evolution, the food price surge comes after the energy price surge, as industrialisation segues into consumption growth (high-income countries consume about 30% more calories than low income nations, but the difference in value is about eight times). Here, we are keenly interested in how the supply side can respond, both in terms of where and how solutions are found, and who is supplying them. We are drawn towards an analogy with the energy industry here: the energy industry has invested heavily in efficiency, and through innovation, clusters of excellence, and access to capital has created solutions, the most obvious of which are renewable energy and shale. The key question for us is, can and will something similar happen in food?

It’s hard to argue that the ingredients that sparked energy’s supply-side response are all present in the food supply chain. In food, there’s huge fragmentation, a lack of coordination, shortages of capital in support industries (infrastructure) and  only pockets of isolated innovation. We suspect that the supply-side response may well remain uncoordinated and slower than in other industries. But things are changing. Those who disagree with Thomas Malthus will always back human ingenuity. As well as looking at where the innovators in the supply chain are (from page 10), and where there are sustainably high returns through IP (e.g., seeds, enzymes etc.), we need to think about the macro and micro economic impacts of higher food prices, and soberingly, the geo-political ones.

Slimming down

Could the demand destruction that higher energy prices have precipitated occur in food? There are some important differences between the two that make resolving food imbalances tougher. Food consumption is very fragmented and there is less scope for substitution.

Changing eating habits is much harder than changing the fuel burnt for power. And, ultimately, food spend is less discretionary that energy, i.e., the scope for efficient consumption is more limited and consumers will not (and cannot) voluntarily delay consumption, let alone structurally reduce it. This means that higher food prices, especially in economies where food is a greater portion of household spending, will lead to either lower consumption of discretionary items or a reduced ability to service debt (with consequent effects on asset prices). When oil prices spiked in the late 1970s, US consumers spent c.9% of their income on energy vs. an average of 7% over the previous decade. And yet, the total savings rate rose by c.2% as they overcompensated on spending cuts on other items. 2007-09 saw a similar phenomenon too. Even the most cursory browse through history shows that high food costs can act as a political tinderbox (so too high youth unemployment), and we believe there is a degree of overconfidence with regard to the economic impact of food prices in the West: food costs relative to incomes may look manageable, but when there is no buffer (i.e., a minimal savings rate) then there are problems. Food spend as a percentage of total household consumption expenditure is a relatively benign 14% in the US, versus c.20% for most major European nations and Japan. This rises to c.40% for China and 45% for India. Of course, as wages rise, the proportion of food within total consumption expenditure falls, but that is only after consumption hits a ceiling. Currently, India and China consume about 2,300 and 2,900 calories per capita per day, compared to a DM average of about 3,400. If the two countries eat like the West, then food production must rise by 12%. And if the rest of the world catches up to these levels then that number is north of 50%.

The scramble for Africa’s eggs

In terms of ownership of resources, food, like energy, can be broken into haves and have-nots. While there are countries  that have been successful without resources, it is quite clear that inheriting advantages (in this case good soil, climate and water) makes life easier. But that, of course, is only half the battle; what is also required is organisation, capital, education and collaboration to make it happen. Take Africa. It has 60% of the world’s uncultivated land, enviable demographics and lots of water (though not evenly distributed). Basic infrastructure, consolidation of agricultural land and minimal use of fertilisers and crop protection could do wonders for agricultural output in the region. But that’s easier said than done. Several African economies also need better access to information, education, property rights and access to markets and capital. Put another way, it needs better institutions. If Africa does deliver over the coming decades, rising food prices will alter the economics of investing in the region. The next scramble for Africa should be about food (while it is about hard commodities now and in the late 19th century it was about empire size). Fertiliser consumption has a diminishing incremental impact on yields, but Africa (along with several developing economies elsewhere) is far from touching that ceiling. Currently, Africa accounts for just 3% of global agricultural trade, with South Africa and Côte d'Ivoire together accounting for a third of the entire continent’s exports. But if the world wants to feed itself then it needs Africa to emerge as an agricultural powerhouse.

Higher up the production curve is China, which has been industrialising its agriculture as it seeks to move towards self sufficiency. Power consumed by agricultural machinery has almost doubled over the last decade, while the number of tractors per household has tripled, driving per hectare output up by an average of more than 20% over the same period.

Even so, in just the last 10 years China has gone from surplus to deficit in several meat, vegetable and cereal categories. So a lot more needs to be done, and a shortage of water could also prove to be an impediment, especially in some of its remote areas.

The power of the pampas

With significant surpluses in soybeans, maize, meat and oilseeds, Brazil and Argentina have led the Latin American  continent in terms of food trade. Current surpluses are 6x and 3x 2000 levels, versus only a 30% increase in the previous decade, and are rising. A key impediment to boosting exports is infrastructure. Food has to travel a long way just to reach the port, and then further still to reach other markets. Forty days is possibly acceptable for iron ore to reach China on a ship from Brazil, but that would prevent several perishable food items from being exported. And hence, solution providers in terms of durability, packaging, refrigeration and processing will be in demand. Also, while you could attribute a lot of the agricultural success of LatAm economies to good conditions, they have also benefitted from the adoption of agricultural innovation. For instance, more than a third of crops planted in the region are as seeds that are genetically modified, versus more than 45% in the US and about 12% in Asia. Genetically modified crops are not new. They provide solutions to some of the most frequent constraints on agricultural yields (resistance to environmental challenges including drought and more efficient absorption of soil nutrients, fertilisers and water) or add value by enhancing nutrient composition or the shelf life of the crop. And while the adoption of GM crops and seeds is far from wholehearted, particularly in Europe, it’s most certainly a key part of the solution in economies that are set to face a more severe food shortage.

The last mango in Paris?

Europe’s deficit/surplus makes for interesting reading. Seventeen of the 27 EU countries face a food trade deficit, and yet, the EU overall recorded a surplus (barely) in 2010 for only the second time in the last 50 years (see chart). Broken down further, the UK is the largest food importer, followed by Germany and Italy, while the Netherlands and France lead exports thanks to their very large processing industries. If Europe’s future is one of relative economic decline, then reduced purchasing power when bidding for scarce food resources is an unappetising prospect. Therefore, it needs all
the innovative solutions it can muster, or import substitution will have to increase. It’s important to note that being in overall surplus or deficit can mask variety at the category level, i.e., Europe is a net importer of beef, fruit & vegetables, and corn, while its exports are helped by alcohol and wine specifically. Japan, in particular, is very challenged. It is the only country in the preceding table to show a deficit in every single food category.

We conclude our trip around the world in North America. Large-scale production, access to markets, a home to innovation
and favourable regulation has meant that the US (and Canada) continues to dominate some of the key agricultural resources such as soybeans, corn, fodder, wheat and oilseeds. Put this self sufficiency together with the medium-term potential for energy self sufficiency and relatively good demographics (better than China), and a rosier prognosis for the  US, versus the rest of the Western world and parts of Asia, begins to fall into place.

Agri-dollars on the rise

Before we conclude, we need to devote a few lines to the geo-political and macro economic consequences of higher food prices. It’s likely that countries will act increasingly strategically to secure food supply, and that protections (e.g., high export tariffs) may well rise. It is also likely that there are special bi-lateral deals to access stable and secure food supply.

This could obviously damage the integrity of the WTO-sponsored system. Another consequence might be the emergence of agri-dollars, in the same way that petro-dollars emerged in the 1970s. This may seem far fetched (the value of the world’s energy exports is US$2.3 tn compared to US$1.08 tn for agriculture) but it’s important to think through the consequences. The big exporters, especially those with the scope to grow their output, may well have sustainable surpluses that can be reinvested into their economies (or extracted by a narrow part of society). Similarly, the consequence of being a net importer will be an effective tax on consumption: disposable income in the US would jump if oil was US$25/bbl.

As we have said, we would expect the big gainers of a meaningful rise in food prices in real terms to be Brazil, the US and Canada, while Japan, South Korea and the UK would face challenges. The top chart is important: look how China’s surplus has turned to deficit. What will happen if the Chinese middle class swells as it is expected to? And that’s  the rub; what we have been used to in terms of food’s importance is set to change. How food moves around the world is likely to change, and the flow of currency around the world will also likely be impacted.

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ekm's picture

Do you understand what I've been saying all along?

An Economy is a derivative of Food + Energy. But none of these can be secured without a strong military.


Hence, EKM's rule of thumb:

Economy is always and at any time a derivative of Military Power.


I welcome accolades.


Dr. Sandi's picture

How's about I grow my garden and you kill the pests?

LawsofPhysics's picture

Agriculture one of the things America still does well.  Anyone else suspect that the banksters and paper-pushers are already working on selling this to China as well, all the while lining their pockets?

None of this is sustainable.  Hedge accordingly.

Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

Monsanto is the only one thats going to make money on food.

They are the only company that is going to have any seeds that will grow in the soil soon.


Monsanto  allready holds the pattent for seeds that will grow in soils with toxic levels of aluminum.

They are front running the Chemtrail Spraying that is going on daily around the world.

What does Monsanto know that most don't...?


Wake up people...

Go outside today and watch the sky,YOU are being CHEMTRAILED.


epwpixieq-1's picture

The article, misses totally the most important point that has to be considered, food waste.

Food = Energy. (note that the Food is substance containing a certain amount of Energy, that is SUITABLE for easy transformation, by our physical bodies)

With the amount of energy we put in the current food production 3 times more food can be grown! This situation is, of course, due to, quite "naturally", a devised a wasteful system for growing CHEMICALS (not a Natural growth ) and NOT food.

There are good number of sources on Internet, for anyone with given level of intelligence, to consider this question.

Even on a comparatively short historical time line, never, an inefficient system, survived the efficiency purge of nature. The more inefficient it is, the faster it dies out.

Generally, every country can sustain its own food production ( may be in exception of Bangladesh, where you have 150 Million people in the territory with size of New York, basically half of the US population packed into the sate of New York ), with a simple condition: they live based on their food culture they have evolved with.

If they try to adopt US consumerism stile, they do not have any option but to expand MILITARY, or being dependant on others for their food, which, in one way or another, is never a good thing.



flapdoodle's picture

Seems to me the missing element from the potential rise of the "agri-dollar" is the role Saudi Arabia takes in the "petro-dollar" monopoly.

Perhaps the US needs to persuade Brazil and Canada to price trade for all their food stuffs in US dollars and that they *really* need a US Military umbrella to protect them from the big bad Chinese or the big bad Russians or the big bad Aliens or the big bad Americans



Bansters-in-my- feces's picture

So....LatAm has benifitted from Genetically modified seeds....

Fuck you.

orangegeek's picture

How to fight and win a war with China.


Step One:  Set up a perimeter blockade on the Pacific coast.


Step Two:  Hold position for two weeks.


Step Three:  Call Bejing to see if they are hungry enough to give up.


Step Four:  Yes - US wins.  No - go to Step One.


End loop.


ali-ali-al-qomfri's picture

When I saw Agri-dollar I thought Hemp-dollar. (you could eat a hemp dollar)

Long (stalks of) Hemp…….the other, other, other crop

I am surprised that there has been no mention of hemp in this great article.

Even all you bread makers must know the value of hemp bread etc.

Hemp…….it’s what for breakfast/lunch/diner/clothes/oil/nitrogen fixing etc.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Excellent point Ali.

Hemp is the silver dagger for so many vile industrial practices. Thus it's perpetual and almost global ban.

If th eworld (common folk) got behind th elegalizatiion of hemp as ONE issue.... could change the world in a year. or less.


grid-b-gone's picture

This past election has indicated the tide is turning to address some subjects like immigration and industrial hemp.

All hemp needs is a wider understanding of its value as a jobs-producing product and that low-THC industrial varieties can be grown without growing a crop with any value in the illegal drug trade.

The hemp = marijuana thought crowd is shrinking and those willing to study the subject in some depth is growing. Change will follow.

Meantime, bread makers can start with beer bread which is a tasty success every time. Just dump ingredients (5 min.) and bake.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Sorry to burst this bubble, but: Hemp (industrial) isn't a miracle product. Trials, tests and so-forth have been done. It's marginally useful in certain product classes, but I can't list a single process where there's not a superior competitor.

Sorry tokers ~ it's not a conspiracy. If it were so useful, you can be sure the GM version with no THC would have been rolled out 40 years ago and you'd see mass-production.

A simple thought experiment on this is obvious:


Are opiates used in drug production? Yes.

Are opiates mass produced for said industries? Yes.

Is hemp mass produced for any industry? No.


The world works on money; if there was a definable market for hemp, it'd be produced within a nano-second. I'd urge you to hit up a serious bio-chemist or agro-business specialist over this ~ they'd love a new miracle plant that's easy to plant, easy to produce and easy to process.


Sorry, but even the pro-Cannabis inside press (many magazines + articles) supports this. Bummer, eh?

Dr. Sandi's picture

One thing hemp has going for it is the deep root system. That means it can bore deep to get minerals from down below the depleted soils above. This can make it a miracle green manure for land that has already been destroyed by 'modern agriculture.'

If you're growing for pharmaceutical use, cannabis seems like a good match on land that can't grow much else anymore. And the 'leftovers' can be put back into the soil to make it a little better next season.

Hemp, the miracle crop for land that isn't good for much else anymore.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Hmm, ok. I'll +1 you until I look into fixing plants for semi-arid deserts.

China has done a lot of research on anti-desertification plants, and if hemp is better than others, it deserves some finance investment.

Dr. Sandi's picture

I don't know enough to say hemp is a better anti-desertification plant. But I can say for sure it's more FUN than other anti-desertification plants!

woggie's picture

subsidies govern ag markets and any notion that situation can convert to currency is preposterous.

levelworm's picture

One crucial thing that the article does not talk much about is the HUGE reserve the Chinese gov horded in the last half a century. Some of the reserves (say, reserve on rice and pork) can cover the need for at least 10 years for the whole nation.

Dr. Sandi's picture

I can visualize a rice reserve. But how the heck to you keep massive amounts of pork for 10 years? That's a LOT of #5 cans.

Or else a lot of really wrinkled up, gray piggies.

Dr. Sandi's picture

Okay, I think I can answer my own question, now that I've thought about it.

From what little I know about how the Chinese 'government' works, I'm guessing that a huge percentage of those geriatric porkers are still on the government books. But in reality, they were turned into luxury condos in Hong Kong and Vancouver a couple of decades back.

Who says government workers are bad businessmen? Not in China, where free enterprise reigns under the not so watchful eye of the local overseers.

kevinearick's picture

Moms, Dads, & The Matching Game

So, we have pulled the proton out of the nucleus, just beyond sight, just long enough for the nucleus to replace it, and we drop the proton back in. What do you suppose is going to happen?

Moms live in the present, leaning toward the past, which is why they focus on making each of your days the best they can be, given present realities. Dads live in the future, making the present increasingly irrelevant. If you assume the old man is stupid, you may as well get out a hammer and hit yourself over the head, repeatedly, because that is exactly what the empire is going to do, for the rest of your life. Very few kids today have productive skills. That's not the problem; it's the solution.

If I shut down all the elevators, and you can turn yours back on locally, what are you worth to capital? If you tell capital how you did it, what are you worth? If you tell the middle class how you did it, to belong to a group, what are you worth? If capital puts you on the rack, will you tell? If you have empire choke tools in many different dimensions, does the empire dare to put you on the rack? In what order do you collect the tools? Before you start building empires in space, you might want to ponder on that for a while.

Wherever I go, I am quickly surrounded by the horde, because I am not of the horde. In my physical life, Middle Class Females know me as a heartless bastard; Middle Class Males know me as a man of few words. None can keep up with me, because they cannot delay me. When you approach the elevator, and release a torrent of bullsh- about being interested in elevators, don't be surprised to confirm to others how cantankerous I am. Carry your weight, and only your weight, and I will see you, regardless of the horde surrounding me.

'member the matching game? Place the cards in rows of equal length. Begin left and move right, row after row. You will quickly be making matches 50% of the time and winning 90% of the time. There are many ways of increasing your percentage, including how you lay out the cards, all of which employ gravity in increasing dimensions. Don't look for the needle in the haystack. Let the needle find you.

Dad picked Mom for reasons that will always be beyond your comprehension. Love your mother. Don't get angry because Dad works 100 hrs/wk. If you want to spend time with Dad, be in the truck at 5am, everyday, regardless, and do what you are told, until you don't have to be told.

The algorithm is one simple line, but its application is infinitely complex, because there are billions of humans and a relatively infinite number of critters, in many time zones. Learn to carry your weight, as quickly as posssible. I started pulling wire when I was 5, after being in that truck since 3, when I had taught myself to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Don't come at me with an entitlement/equal rights attitude and expect not to be heading down the elevator shaft, head first.

The value of money is what you choose it to be, how you spend it, regardless of its creation.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Interesting; no-one's mentioned the shift in protein sources that will be necessary once fish stocks really start to crash (~timeline 5-10 years), especially in the agri-feed business. Mississippi is researching the black soldier fly, and there's some work being done by the South Africans.

I did the research on this about 14 months ago, and I'm fairly convinced that insect protein (esp. in animal feeds) is going to be a major growth industry in the next ten years. Especially if you start building it into food producing ecosystems (e.g. in aquaculture) coupled with recycling (i.e. utilising organic wastes). Insect protein has the advantage in removing pathogens, meaning less pasturisation stages are required.

For the ZH self-sufficient readers, BSF production is fairly easy in certain latitudes of the USA, and suitable to homestead scale aquaculture and chicken raising. A good resource to start with is here.


Other topics someone mentioned ~ the largest problem with waste water (esp. in the USA), is that there's very little work done on filtering chemicals out of it, specifically medicines, and most perniciously, birth control pills. Until someone grabs hold of the issue, and designs cheap ways to filter out these chemicals, water treatment is actually damaging your ecosystems because it gives the illusion they're "safe" to release where-ever you want.


Look at Madagascar for the Chinese model ~ long play time, most likely large yield in influence and resource extraction.

China is continuing its governmental aid through social and economic assistance to reduce the suffering of Malagasy people, to bring activities and exchanges in the field of education and culture, Shen said.

EIU 2012 report ~ This year saw China overtake the US as the world’s largest food and grocery market. In 2013 China is expected to surpass Japan as the world’s largest luxury goods market, and by 2016 it is expected to overtake the US to become the world’s largest retail market.

blunderdog's picture

Insects look promising, but vegetarian diets are fine too, and far more efficient use of solar energy.

I suggest that learning to cook is *the* all-time most valuable survival skill that the species has ever developed.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

There's two points to this:

a) In most farming, there's a large amount of celluose that cannot be broken down by humans; that's the entire reason subsistance farming employs multiple layers of energy sources for omnivores. i.e. What you can't eat of the plants, your chickens can, and so on throughout the chain, moving bio-processing up into things you can eat. Insects are about the most efficient model in this; out of 10 lbs vegetable material, 9 lb return, compared to about 1-2 for most blooded mammals, barring the genus muroidea (guinea pigs et al)

b) Sadly, some of us can't be herbivores


A total vegetarian model will never work, for one simple reason: carnivores exist, and mostly they're not thoughtful of their prey species. Be thankful thoughtful ones do exist, n'cest pas?


Lions, tigers and bears...

blunderdog's picture

Most of the *big* carnivores aren't terribly important to the ecosystem, which is a good thing, because we're going to extinct them all, anyway, primarily through thoughtlessness.

The majority of the little carnivores aren't very tasty.

I do take the point about the digestion of cellulose.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

I'd have to strongly disagree with this take: it represents Ecology about 40 years ago.

Firstly, Apex Predators are essential to ecosystems, and removing them often crashes your system (esp. in sensitive mega-ecologies such as reefs). All ecosystems require Apex Predators ~ the issue is how many to have, and what's the danger of allowing them to inter-act freely as those ecosystems are interfered with. Although yes; given the extinction rate is posited at near 1/6th, most won't make it.

Secondly, the largest groups of carnivores left (cats and dogs) are perfectly tasty ~ they're just more useful as companions / bioweapons than food sources.


Dr. Sandi's picture

Knowing how to cook is absolutely the top survival skill. And if you can believe this stuff, humans weren't able to evolve with the enlarged brain pan until some hungry hominid came up with cooking. Which implies fire came before modern humans.

Also, tip for the young male. If you know how to cook, it's a lot easier to break up with that bitch.

grid-b-gone's picture

Black soldier fly larvae provide a well-balanced fish diet.

Soybean-based fish feed is growing.

A single-season Yellow Perch is close to marketability.

Together, these developments will grow zone 4 inland fish production in the midwest. This will take some pressure off ocean and Great Lakes production that requires more oil consumption for transportation.

These developments give farmers, who often already have available ponds, another crop option to help them diversify and compete against ever-expanding commercial farms.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Thanks for the PDF.

Personally, soya is rarely sustainable, given where it's grown, so I'm highly suspicious of investing in anything that relies on it. However, I'm sure that soya can be traded out for locally produced "beans", so there's some wiggle-room there.


Bookmarked, and forwarded for discussion on Monday. Thanks.

tip e. canoe's picture

that BSF compost blog is awesome...thanks a million.

here's a link i just found in the comment section on how they're using BSF to compost humanure in Africa.

tho i wonder if/how the pathogens get killed in that type of system.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

You're welcome: looks like the South African Agriprotein (who I linked to) are active, which is a good thing. BSF lack omega-3's, however, so you'll need to factor that in.


Unrelated note: found out what the most likely solution for water treatment will be. GM'd soil bacteria that naturally digest them in the wild, key'd to the various types found in human-produced waste water (keywords: antibiotic functional-metagenomics soil). Estrogens, not so sure of. I discovered this by chance, watching through an old 2009 Edge / SpaceX talk series on Synthetic Genomics, worth 6 hrs of viewing if you've the time [and yes: GM is on the table, and unstoppable at this point, despite ethical issues around it].

tip e. canoe's picture

"BSF lack omega-3's"   no worries, just add some purslane and voila! gourmet chickfeed.

synthetic genomics sounds downright diabolical, so probably best to give a listen.

fun fact while searching your keywords : over 99% of microbial species cannot be cultivated in the laboratory

if this is accurate, makes me suspicious whether playing around with them on a genetic level might unleash some unpredictable critters.

Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Put it this way: bacteria swap genetic material like a Roman Orgy goes through olive oil. There's a fairly good case to be made that bacteria are all actually part of one living organism, merely specialised to their environment they find themselves in.That includes human fauna: including "Antibiotics have depleted our gut flora and possibly made us fatter. Researchers look for answers in the flora of humans who lived in an era before modern medicine" (note: they use flora for bacteria, which I find incorrect), which is current here on ZH; there's current (very positive) research being done on bacterial colon swaps to cure Chrones disease etc. The flip side to this is the mounting amount of Americans with MRSA (again, The Atlantic: I'm using this source as a demonstration of an "end populace -> meme filter", the science behind it is all older) and potential for a lot of humans to possess bad fauna (which is partly why I'd never eat a McDonalds).

Big players like DuPont etc have already dumped $400+ mn in creating specific critters, and the pharma-industry has put in more for "drug factories"; we presume that genetic propagation is tightly controlled. Church (heading that talk) is a nexus point of 16 companies [although 2009, so would need research updating] and frankly admits to the potential for disaster (in the talks, I think he specifically states "terrifying"); there's also some MSM back-chatter about "threats from lone biologists with genetic factories" (The Atlantic 2012, so current), which has made it into Oxford's Ethics circles.

TPTB are taking things seriously, which is at least a "good" sign; and yes, The Atlantic is a sanctioned mouth-piece, it would seem.


But, at this point, the genie is definitely out of the bottle.

tip e. canoe's picture

all the more reason to drink kombucha :)

thanks for the links...enjoy your comments...tho i disagree about the magic hemp (all smoking aside)...the plastic substitutes alone are worth the development, not to mention the fuel potential...your point is taken, however, couldn't the suppression be due to the petrol mafia protecting its turf?

q99x2's picture

Food revolutions will lead to nationalized farmlands around the world. Quickly.

Dr. Sandi's picture

Serf's up!

Prithee, couldst thou give me a ride to the castle, that I might pay my taxes to the lord whose lands we all are allowed to till?

homonohumanus's picture

In my opiniom that article is completely desillusional, modern agriculture is the art of transforming petrol into food according to A.Bartlett, I would go further and say the art of transforming cheap oil into food.


Is that article stating that shale gas are to replace cheap oil in the process of create enough food for an ever growing population, doing so sustaining the Dollars position as the only reserve currency?


It is a pipe dream, shale gas are not in the quantity so called experts spoke about, out of coincidence during the US presidential campaign, they have a terrible environmental cost. Worse than socializing loss, is to pollute the single most essential resources for human survival... clear water... and that among other niceties and significants risks.

Truth is that companies, motivated by greed only, know the price for gas and oil are going to raise soon. There are more and ore noise surrounding the possibility that we are already in the peak oil (and it is not like a few years make that much of a difference). They want to be allowed to make insane profits, at a terrible cost be it for a few years... and let the commoners deals with the consequences...


Then you have to consider the RIE of shale gas (putting aside for moment for how long the production can be sustained) and the consequence on prices.


We are entering a new era, even educated people blind them selves on the nefarious consequences of our cult of "growth". For all the people here that understand the attribute of an exponential growth, be it for compund interests, PM, energetic resources but have a tendancy to put the issue aside I advice you to watch Bartlett's video about the "bacteria and the bottle" which is a great and simple way to visualize the issue we have at hand.


YOu can't tromp maths on the matter, that is far from rocket science, crazily complex financial vehicles and so many others human constructs.

Dr. Sandi's picture

Stop that. You're rocking the boat and making a lot of sensitive people queasy.

Yen Cross's picture

 The Netherlands sure likes it's tobbaco ;-)

steveo77's picture

MEH girl, Hawaii Bikini Girl 
Completely Gratuitous Fibonacci Curves girl.html

news printer's picture
Egypt ends fuel subsidies as part of IMF deal

Egypt's cabinet has approved the ending of subsidies on 95-octane petrol and said it would set quotas for the sale of other subsidised fuel from April, the planning minister said.

MeBizarro's picture

The US has used food exports as a key source of foreign policy to the developing world since the 60s really.  It was just accelerated under Butz and the Nixon administration.  Sometimes we use it as a cudgel but other times we use to as more of a soft-power tool to grease things we want done.  

Earl Butz is arguably one of the most prominent 20th century Americans who had a profound impact on the way Americans eat and live yet a majoirty of Americans don't know who he was and what he helped to implement. 


wilijones's picture

doesn't usa just grow a bunch of crap corn to make sunglasses and cancerous chemicals?

Hulk's picture

We manufacture 47 million corn based EBT cards yearly. WHen the card expires, they can be eaten like a cracker...

Dr. Sandi's picture

Don't try eatin' a cracker. He'll shoot your ass a'for you kin get 'im.

Go for a nerd. They're not usually armed and they move slower. Tender too.

Hulk's picture

Crakas are tougher than wild Turkey, which should only be served in a glass...

ItsDanger's picture

Its annoying to watch here in Southern Ontario all the suburbs going up on prime farmland.

Dr. Sandi's picture

So blatant criminality annoys you then?