Evil Corn? They don’t put it that way, but they HAVE called for an immediate suspension of government-mandated US ethanol production, saying that this is creating a worldwide food shortage. Corn (the main ingredient in ethanol) is not only a staple food in much of the world, it is also fed to livestock. When we had plenty of corn (which is subsidized–and also stored–with our tax money), we wanted to turn it into biofuel, but now that we’re facing a corn shortage due to drought, it’s time to use something more efficient to make biofuel.
In the August 10th edition of the Financial Times, Javier Blas and Gregory Meyer explain that "the US is poised to divert around 40% of its corn into ethanol because of (a) Congress-enacted mandate." They quote José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, as saying, "An immediate, temporary suspension of that (ethanol) mandate would give some respite to the market and allow more of the crop to be channeled towards food and feed uses."
US refiners need BILLIONS of gallons of ethanol to meet environmental specifications for biofuel, and the suspension of the mandate (which is not likely to go through in the current deadlocked Congress) could cause oil prices to rise, making the recession worse. Farm states such as Iowa, which is a swing state in the upcoming election, benefit from higher corn prices, while other swing states, such as livestock-raising Texas, are helped by lower corn prices.
It seems like Congress can’t manage to do ANYTHING in an election year like this one, but it HAS acted on this before: In 2008, the EPA denied a waiver request from Texas.
The writers quote Graziano da Silva as saying that, "with world prices of cereals rising, the competition between the food, feed and fuel sectors for crops is likely to intensify." In other words, this is just the beginning.
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