Friday, June 22, 2007

Senate mandates ethanol a food shortage next?

The Senate just voted on and passed an Energy Bill that mandates the production of 36 billion gallons a year of ethanol, as a substitute for gasoline, by 2022.

Of concern to many is that actions like this will stoke the law of uninteded consequences...specifically causing a food shortage:
...A recent study conducted by the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development at Iowa State University (which receives funding from grocery manufacturers and livestock producers) reported that U.S. ethanol production could consume more than half of U.S. corn, wheat and coarse grains by 2012, driving up food prices and causing shortages. The study estimates that booming ethanol production has already raised U.S. food prices by $47 per person annually. In Mexico, protests have already erupted over the high price of corn tortillas, a staple food in the local diet.

Planting more corn is one solution, but that means planting less of other crops that are also widely used in foods, such as soybeans and wheat. Tilling fallow land could create more growing space for corn, but might lead to soil erosion and impacts on wildlife habitats.

According to a December 2006 study by the International Food Policy Research Institute, producing enough ethanol to fuel all of the world’s vehicles would require five times more corn than is planted today and 15 times as much sugar cane...
Related: 'Just One Word...Biobutanol'


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