Everything looks good, is on schedule and it looks like Ethanol fuel is well on its way to eventually replacing gasoline as a fuel source for our present automobile engines. What we must all consider is that under full-scale production, Ethanol will deplete a good portion of our corn crop here in the U.S. and this means food price increases, across the board.
Do We Have At Least One Example To Reflect On ?
It is certainly the greatest desire of everyone of us, both here in the U.S. and most of the rest of the world to see oil become a less demanded commodity, but the need…at least for now, to use a good portion of our food crop in order to produce a replacement cannot be the only solution, at least not by itself. As we peer to our southern hemisphere at Brazil, the forerunner of Ethanol production using sugar cane, we find that it is not all that simple to accomplish on such a grand scale.
Brazil had to increase their farmland dedicated for the planting of more sugar cane in order to meet their needs. We now learn that they have completely converted to Ethanol for driving all of their countries automobiles and no longer import oil for refining to gasoline. With a population of about 188 million people, which is considered large, they seem to have accomplished their goal, but it may be some time before problems with price rise in their country becomes a problem. We cannot compare the two countries regarding this one aspect, since the U.S. exports large quantities of both commodities to many other countries of the world and also provides third world nations with long term aid in food programs, which could be affected by large scale fuel conversion programs, both for ethanol employing corn and bio diesel which uses our soybean crop. It will take many millions of gallons of bio diesel to satisfy the U.S. needs per year, but we are told that these quantities can be reached over time.
Soybean looks feasible…What About Corn ?
The U.S. has produced bumper crops for many decades, but the conversion of this very important food crop will require enormous amounts to satisfy our automotive fuel need and even ramping up from where we are at this very moment to 2025 will require some adjustment over this period. Corn is not only a very large U.S. export, but it is used as a sugar additive in a great many of our cereals and pastry products which helps manufacturers save money. Will ethanol help deplete some of this sweetener ? More important is its food importance in almost every home as whole kernel or cream corn in a can, not to mention this commodity which is also exported for food to other parts of the world.
At the moment, the U.S. can withstand drought and other related weather problems, which lower annual crop yields, but will this cause unrecoverable strains on our critical farm food production ? We have never attempted such a massive undertaking and we all hope that everything runs smoothly for all our sake. Let us hope that we don’t have to even begin to make the choice between fuel for the auto or food for our body, though one benefit may turn out to be our lower consumption of sweeteners in our cereals and pastries…