Food, Fuel and Fools

Corn - food or fuel?
/. has an interesting article.

The US Dept. of Energy is stating that corn based fuel is not the answer. From the article, “I’m not going to predict what the price of corn is going to do, but I will tell you the future of biofuels is not based on corn,” U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell said in an interview. Output of U.S. ethanol, which is mostly made from corn, is expected to jump in 2007 from 5.6 billion gallons per year to 8 billion gpy, as nearly 80 bio-refineries sprout up.
Slashdot | Dept. of Energy Rejects Corn Fuel Future

What is so interesting about this is that this severely truth-challenged administration has issued an opinion which is harmonious with modern scientific and environmental thinking.

Meanwhile, The New York Times has an article today highlighting farmers’ intention to plant more corn this year than at any time since WWII, mostly to support ethanol production.

Then we have Fidel Castro lashing out yesterday in an editorial, his first since his surgery last July, blaming the US and it’s biofuel plans for exaserbating world hunger:

Castro said more than 3 billion people in the world were condemned to die prematurely of hunger or thirst from plans by his ideological foe, the United States, to convert foodstuffs like corn into fuel for cars.
Fidel Castro writes first editorial since surgery – washingtonpost.com

Corn based ethanol is a losing proposition, as it yields little or no more energy than it takes to produce, as opposed to cellulostic sources, such as Bush’s famous switchgrass or sugar cane. Problem is that Iowa, with its first in the nation caucuses has managed to preserve the sanctity of ethanol for many years due to the quadrennial panderfest of Presidential politics.

So, be prepared to see the US maintain its fascination with corn-based biofules for the foreseeable future while other countries find true efficiencies in other materials, such as Brazil with sugar cane.

Epilog: By the close of trading corn futures had dropped by 5% and the stock of Archer Daniels Midland (the largest biofuels producer) had fallen.

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