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An Abrupt Reality, Fuel or Food

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…

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User Comments
  1. kemper

    On May 3, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    whether discussing ethanol or methanol,
    “losing” crops to exclusive focus on fuel is absurd–not that your article is absurd.
    IT is what the media and others are saying; “The corn-food-sky is fallling.”
    We have eough raw material in plants,
    trees, flowers, etc, to supply all the cars in the world 5x over and not even miss the trees, etc.

    We have enough land to plant corn to feed every person on earth and power every
    vehicle. Remember, TX, AZ, and NV have
    enough land to grow trillions of
    corn stalks or trees.

  2. Richard

    On April 5, 2008 at 9:30 am

    Perhaps there is enough land and feedstock for cellulosic ethanol production in the US, but don’t forget the need for water to grow these things. Water is becoming more and more scarce and isn’t in great abundance in TX, AZ and NV.

  3. beauley, Lucien

    On April 5, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    I totally agree with your position. I neglected to mention that other slightly important limitation, though there might be a silver lining in the near future. Check out the work of Farouk el Bas: A Man With a Humanitarian Destiny, which I wrote.
    Thanks for your comments.

  4. eliana

    On June 11, 2008 at 11:47 am

    With gas prices well over $4, 23/6 has thoughtfully offered up some easy tips for how cope with the oil crisis. For example, have you considered forming a murderous clan? Farming and harvesting greasy adolescent youths as an alternative fuel source?

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