Should First World Biofuel Rob Third World Food?
Is it right that with corn prices so high farmers are selling to companies that produce corn ethanol, meaning that poor communities who rely on corn as a staple food source are beginning to starve? What can be done about this, or should anything be done at all?
Do you have A Modest Proposal?
Not really, it was just a question that I had after reading an article, and just wondered if anyone had any opinion on it.
Personally I think that if anyone must go hungry just so that someone else can drive around using a fuel that releases slightly fewer carbon emissions, then there is something fundamentally wrong. If Guadalajaran farmers must starve so that the US can put corn ethanol in its gasoline, then the US must stop that practice, or give aid to the farmers in some other form.
I call the whole ethanol thing the ADM Long Term Subsidy Act.
The US fascination with biofuels and ethanol seems odd to me. Adding ethanol to fuel only marginally reduces the carbon emissions, yet the corn used to produce the ethanol could feed thousands of people. Surely there is no contest when choosing between the two options?
I live in a city with a large ADM plant. They "feed the world". It is a great company, but poor people don't need grain processing, they need grain. A poor person can live a year on a dozen bushels of corn. When it cost $1.80 a bushel I used to burn it in a corn stove.
I had an old uninsulated house, and was trying to lower my heating bill. I now live in a small well insulated home and get most of my heat from a small gas heating stove in the living room. Corn now costs about 7.50 a bushel. I don't think we need to make ethanol any more. Natural gas, wind, and solar can replace that. When ethanol is made from corn you still have the protein to use for food though. I was in favor of ethanol form corn, or biomass before I learned that we had been lied to about the abundance of natural gas that was available. Jimmy Carter had been misled back in the seventies. Exxon testified that there was not enough for transportation, even though they knew there was plenty. There was then an act passed that prohibited natural gas being used for vehicles. My sources are Cronies by Robert Bryce, and The Great Energy transition by Robert A. Hefner III. Hefner advocates natural gas as a bridge to solar, wind, geothermal etc.
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