Burning up food prices: More corn going to ethanol production now than food production
by: J. D. Heyes
Friday, August 19, 2011
The world has a food shortage. This isn’t speculative or subjective, and it’s not fear-mongering or alarmist. It’s a well-documented fact and, what’s more, the real experts – those who aren’t influenced by government or corporate interests – have been trying to make that case for months.
Moreover, these same experts say, the shortages are causing global food prices to rise – dramatically in some cases – which is only leading to more hunger, more pain and more hardship.
So, what is the United States doing to blunt the effects of this food shortage? What is official U.S. policy regarding, say, the production of corn – the primary ingredient in scores of food products and livestock feed? Well, officially, our policy is to burn up a substantial amount of corn every year in our automobiles – food that could be used to feed Americans and the world.
“In the United States, which harvested 416 million tons of grain in 2009, 119 million tons went to ethanol distilleries to produce fuel for cars,” says Lester Brown, writing in Foreign Policy magazine in January. “That’s enough to feed 350 million people for a year. The massive U.S. investment in ethanol distilleries sets the stage for direct competition between cars and people for the world grain harvest.”