Throughout the history of the modern world, one food has been consumed by human beings for centuries. That food is corn and the various food products that are made from it. Like most Americans, I consumer my fair share of corn each year and I love it very much. Filled with carbohydrates and protein, corn is also the main food staple in poor developing countries like Mexico. In recent years, the 'green movement' and political interests of U.S. farmers have worked hard to turn corn, one of the world's best nutritious foods, into fuel. In a process that is similar to the way old time 'moonshiners' use to turn corn into liquor, now days the distilling of corn has changed from illegal production of moonshine to a legal form of fuel known as Ethanol. Ethanol burns much cleaner than fossil fuels like gasoline, but there are many downsides of using food as a fuel substitute to petroleum based products like crude oil.
While the statement is true that 'America runs on energy', without food all of that energy won't do any of us any good. In reality, there are decades worth of crude oil resting under the ground just waiting to be pumped out and used, but powerful environmental interest have worked hard to keep these vast supplies of oil from being pumped to the surface. Leading the charge of environmentalist are politicians like Al Gore. Most environmentalist are completely convinced that man made carbon pollution is causing the Earth to warm at a raid rate and they believe that carbon pollution is leading to a climate condition called 'Global Warming'. In the world of full blown environmentalist, there is nothing good about petroleum based products like crude oil and gasoline. To environmentalist, if the United States must use some types of energy, only solar and wind power meet their strict standards of acceptable alternatives to fossil based fuels.
Since the United States government started paying American farmers to grow corn for fuel. The price of corn has risen around the world and in some poor counties like Mexico, where most poor families depend on corn to make their basic food source, tortillas, an ever increasing price of corn is causing some people to go hungry. At first the idea of helping American farmers earn more money by allowing them to grow crops that could reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil, like OPEC, made a lot of since to me. However, there turned out to be a big downside or two when it comes to turning food into fuel. That big downside is seen in two ways, first when food is used for fuel - some poor people go hungry and the other downside involves Congress using corn payments to farmers to buy their votes for reelection. Even with corn prices at all time highs, within the past few weeks Member of Congress pass even more perks for corn farmers than they were getting before.
I must admit that I was wrong about my initial enthusiasm about using corn for fuel. We are now several years later after corn and Ethanol production have increase. Rather than the price of gasoline going lower, we seem to be hitting a new record high every day. Also, while Ethanol does burn cleaner than gasoline - I can't see any improvement in the environment, either. Now it seems crystal clear that there would be big downside when the U.S. government starting paying farmers to produce corn for fuel instead of for food. However, like so many other good ideas that appeared great on paper that turned out to not work so well in real life - Ethanol, it turns out, will not solve or really even help - for that matter - the overall problem of Americans dependence on foreign sources of crude oil. The U.S. government should stop encouraging American farmers to grow corn for fuel and instead let them grow crops like they have for hundreds of years. Then the federal government should take the money that they are currently giving to farmers to grow fuel and instead give it to companies that will go out and search for and find oil for our domestic needs.
Title: Using Corn For Fuel, A Smart Choice?
Written: June 16 2008
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