Sunday, February 17, 2008

Perspective on Corn Ethanol

Ever wonder how much corn we grow for fuel, not food? A lot.

The pending global food crisis is due, in part, to a rich twist of irony: One of the factors driving up the price of T-bone steak, a dozen eggs and a carton of milk is a perfectly edible vegetable, a staple of many diets - corn.

To add to the irony, we're growing more corn than ever before. We're just not eating it.

"The U.S. is now using more corn for production of ethanol than our entire crop in Canada," says Kurt Klein, a professor of agricultural economics at the University of Lethbridge. "It's huge."

And it is going to get bigger. In 2000, world production of ethanol totalled 20 billion litres. In 2007, world production climbed to 60 billion litres. In the month of January alone, six billion new litres of ethanol were produced in the U.S., Mr. Klein says.

God help us all if we have a sustained drought here in the corn belt.

(Cross posted at the BBA)

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