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Much of the ethanol produced from the corn was exported overseas

When it comes to removing our dependence on foreign oil there are other options than using electricity or hydrogen to power cars. One of the options is using ethanol and other biofuels to replace some of the petroleum used in our gasoline. The big downside is that most of the ethanol produced in the U.S. today is made from corn.
Corn is an important food crop that is consumed by humans and used as feed for livestock and other animals. Scientific America reports that for every ten ears of corn grown in the U.S. today, only two are consumed by humans as food. The other ears are used for animal feed and ethanol production.
The numbers show that for the year spanning August 2010 to August 2011 the biofuel industry used more corn than farmers used for animal feed and residual demand. This is the first time more corn has been used for ethanol and shows a shifting balance that could spell trouble in the future. Over that year span, farmers used 5 billion bushels of corn and ethanol production used 5.05 billion bushels. Some of that corn did return to the food supply as animal feed and corn oil.
The fear is that the shift from food being the largest use for corn and fuel taking the top spot is a concern that could have significant impact on the world grain market. One of the reasons for the shift to ethanol use for corn is the government subsidies and the import tariffs on foreign ethanol. 
Steven Rattner said in a piece written for the NYT, “Because of the subsidy, ethanol became cheaper than gasoline, and so we sent 397 million gallons of ethanol overseas last year. America is simultaneously importing costly foreign oil and subsidizing the export of its equivalent.” 
That means much of the corn being used for fuel isn't making it into American fuel tanks so we still have to import more foreign oil to meet our fuel needs. Some in Congress are working hard to get the subsidies repealed and to lift the import tariff so that cheaper biofuels made from sugarcane can be imported from Brazil. There is also a lot of research going into making ethanol from other crops like switchgrass.
Rattner also wrote, "Even farm advocates like former Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman agree that the [ethanol] situation must be fixed. Reports filtering out of the budget talks currently under way suggest that agriculture subsidies sit prominently on the chopping block. The time is ripe."

Source: Scientific American

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RE: What the ****?
By sschulte on 10/13/2011 2:36:18 PM , Rating: 3
The author of the story laments that only 2 of every 10 ears of corn, 20%, is used as food because of ethanol use. I looked back to 1997, before ethanol production took off. In 1997, 16% of corn was used for human food. Why? Because the kind of corn that is used in ethanol isn't people food for the most part. It is a grain, fed mainly to cattle and other animals. A third of the corn that is used to make ethanol comes back out of the plant as distillers grains (DDGS) and is a high nutrient feed for livestock.

RE: What the ****?
By rcc on 10/13/2011 2:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
What's your point? If stock feed is converted to ethanol, that raises the price of feed, which raises the price of beef, chicken,etc.

Not to mention the farmers planting that type of corn in preference to crops that feed people.

RE: What the ****?
By inperfectdarkness on 10/13/2011 3:58:37 PM , Rating: 2
the point is that if 1/3 of the raw good is useable as feed; it's hardly a point of worrysome contention.

and if ethanol provides more lucrative return than food production--then the farmers SHOULD plant crops for ethanol. welcome to economics 101.

RE: What the ****?
By rcc on 10/13/2011 7:04:48 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but it's only more lucrative because of the ethanol subsidies.

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