Why are we still using food for fuel?

My Christmas dinner plate

Corn belongs here, not in our fuel tanks (Photo credit: daveynin)

This troubles me as a consumer. It should trouble all consumers.

That 20 ethanol plants are being idled because of a drought-induced shortage of corn ought to serve as a wake-up call for those involved in converting food into fuel. I’m more concerned about consumers like myself than I am the shuttering of these plants and the lost jobs. My hope is that people will wake up and react to the severe unintended consequences of this push for ethanol and biofuels and call for an end to this insane boondoggle, at least until the technology is available to convert waste products into fuel.

According to the article, about 95 percent of US ethanol is made from corn. That’s a staple of many of our own food products, and a big component to animal feed, such as dairy cows. Hijacking our corn supply for biofuel is, in my opinion, not the smartest idea on the books, particularly when we have ample sources of petroleum with which to fuel our economy. A host of recent stories (here, here and here) suggest that California alone might be sitting on an oil boom that could move America much closer to energy independence than we recently thought possible.

There are too many stories out there to ignore when it comes to the timing of ethanol’s rise to fame and the spike in food and feed prices in America. Major media outlets reported on the spike in grocery prices in America and elsewhere. Those involved in animal agriculture reported similar spikes in corn prices — so much so, that it forced them into other feed sources, which ultimately drove up those prices as well as the demand grew for other feed sources.

Remember not so long ago when bread was cheap and other food items were inexpensive as well? You can thank the marriage between the corn lobby and the ethanol lobby for the spike in grocery prices.

As a matter of national policy, American agriculture needs to be on the top of the minds of our elected leaders, but not simply as a means to line the pockets of a select few political donors. Rather, it’s important that we maintain an ample supply of inexpensive food sources for our homes and our farms, particularly as we continue to languish in this never-ending economic depression that our elected officials seem to enjoy for their own twisted political purposes.

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