Is Ethanol Fuel Causing Starvation?

Is the corn used to produce ethanol motor fuel causing a massive increase in undernourished people in the  world?   A posting in the Energy Tribune suggests that using corn to produce ethanol is doing just that.  Their posting is based upon an Earth Policy Institute study which states that the grain consumed for the production of ethanol in 2009  was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption.

I am always made a little uneasy by Organizations that can come up with numbers of starving people or homeless people or people without insurance.  Often they are advocates of something just as World Wildlife Fund is, among other things, a creator of lots of  global warming “facts”. There is a comment that follows the posting in the Energy Tribune that makes some pretty good sense too, about why you might want to question the total numbers of people that could have used the corn for food.

However,  the concept that the supported price of ethanol fuel can outbid food uses for the available corn seems very logical; thus it seems likely to have some effect on the amount of corn that was not available for food use. I expect the various interest groups will begin to battle this out and we will learn more in time. Some excerpts from the Energy Tribune blog follows:

The US, says the think tank:

is far and away the world’s leading grain exporter, exporting more than Argentina, Australia, Canada, and Russia combined. In a globalized food economy, increased demand for food to fuel American vehicles puts additional pressure on world food supplies.

From an agricultural vantage point, the automotive hunger for crop-based fuels is insatiable. The Earth Policy Institute has noted that even if the entire US grain crop were converted to ethanol (leaving no domestic crop to make bread, rice, pasta, or feed the animals from which we get meat, milk, and eggs), it would satisfy at most 18 percent of US automotive fuel needs.

When the growing demand for corn for ethanol helped to push world grain prices to record highs between late 2006 and 2008, people in low-income grain-importing countries were hit the hardest. The unprecedented spike in food prices drove up the number of hungry people in the world to over 1 billion for the first time in 2009. Though the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression has recently brought food prices down from their peak, they still remain well above their long-term average levels.

The full posting, including graphs can be read by clicking here.  Be sure to read the interesting comment (probably  by an etoh fuel advocate) at the end of the posting.


3 responses to “Is Ethanol Fuel Causing Starvation?

  1. Ethanol creates American Jobs.

    Ethanol can displace oil, one Btu of ethanol to two Btu’s of petroleum.

    Ethanol offers a reduction in emission and green house gases.

    Ethanol in higher blends (E15) in non flex vehicles will not hurt the vehicle and on average will not reduce mileage.

    Ethanol does not displace the amount of corn as reported; the amount of protein that remains from the ethanol process is being feed to cattle, dairy and poultry. This amount is displacing over half the market value of corn heading to the ethanol plant verses the original feeding value.

    Ethanol does not raise food prices like reported on the news. Less than 17% of corn goes directly to the food industry while speculators in Chicago drove up the commodities just like they did with oil and precious metals.

    Ethanol can feed people; new plant designs can separate the protein from the starch prior to the fermentation and allow production of food grade protein. We always hear about diet issues here and abroad, we are a starch rich protein deficient world.

    Ethanol does not use vast amounts of water unless you want to figure in the rain, most ethanol plants are zero water discharge with only the cooling towers giving off water vapor for cooling. Look at the water use for refining gasoline. More water is used to water golf courses in Palm Beach and Broward counties then the entire ethanol industry, 3 gallons of water to one gallon ethanol.

    Ethanol (corn based) is not responsible for rain forest destruction. There was a 4% reduction in acres of corn planted last year with another reduction forecasted this year. Reports are that vast amounts of rain forest are being harvested for the hard wood while agriculture and cattle production only followed due to open land. This was Brazil’s form of welfare.

    Ethanol can displace most if not all the oil we import from the Middle East. With the combination of corn based, cellulose & wood ethanol production. When we trade with ourselves we have both the product and the money. We need a fair and balanced approach.

    Ethanol value can be raised to and above the value of gasoline if the future of ethanol gained its needed review. We can use ethanol more efficiently then current uses today but not when people hear and believe the false claims.

    Ethanol can help other third world countries. America dumps our cheap commodities on the world market making it difficult for farmers in S America, Eastern Europe or Africa to be productive or make a living.

  2. The benefits of using the food supply for ethanol production are as follows
    As people in less developed cuntries die from starvation because of the high cost food due to ethanol production, thier will be less people competing for food.

    It cost more to produce ethanol domesticly than to import oil from abroad,
    The question : Why produce ethanol at the expense of the food supply,
    The answer : because the government is behind the movement for reasons they don’t fully understand

  3. Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written much better! Going through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I will forward this information to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read.
    Many thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s