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Originally published March 21 2008

Understanding the Transition From Seed Corn to Biofuels

by Jo Hartley

(NaturalNews) We are about to witness and experience the greatest sustained rise in grain prices seen in the last 30 years. This rise will include wheat, rice, and maize; these three comprising over 90% of all grains cultivated on the planet. Let's do some digging to figure out what is causing this sharp increase.

The Bush Administration's "20 in 10" program is at the root of the problem. The plan is to cut US gas consumption by 20% by the year 2010. The official PR (Public Relations) tells us that this will reduce US dependency on foreign oil producers and will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Both of these claims are false.

The foundation of this plan is a large taxpayer-funded expansion of the use of biofuel (ethanol) for transportation. This plan requires the production of 35 billion gallons of ethanol per year by the year 2017. Congress has already mandated that corn ethanol must rise from 4 billion gallons in 2006 to 7.5 billion in 2012. To guarantee this, agri-Giants like David Rockefeller are providing generous incentives to farmers choosing to grow corn for ethanol rather than food. Ethanol producers receive a subsidy of 51 cents per gallon of ethanol that is provided to an oil company.

The transition from farmland being used to grow food to farmland being used to grow biofuels is being dubbed a major new growth industry. Two years ago, US farmland devoted to biofuel crops increased by 48%. Due to the attractive incentives set in place by Congress, none of this farmland has been replaced with food crops. Since 2001 alone, maize grown to produce ethanol in the US has increased by 300% and this will continue to rise. Food prices are soaring as corn and cereal grain prices are rising due to the Congress driven demand for corn to make biofuels.

A result of the attractive biofuel subsidies and the ethanol mandate is US refineries investing heavily in building new ethanol distilleries (think oil refineries) for producing ethanol. Currently, the number of ethanol distilleries under construction exceeds the number of oil refineries built in the United States over the last 25 years. Upon completion over the next few years, the demand for corn to produce ethanol is expected to double.

More than 50% of corn grown in Iowa and South Dakota went to ethanol distilleries in 2006. Farmers desperate for income after years of low corn prices are finding it hard to resist adopting the modern agribusiness practice of abandoning crop rotation to grow only soybeans and corn. This has directly impacted both soil erosion and herbicide/pesticide use. Currently in the US, over 40% of all herbicides are applied to corn.

Biofuels are being presented to us as the solution to environmental problems such as the "global warming," among others. Hyped science and political agendas that have been used to support concern about global warming aside, biofuels provide no substantial benefits over oil. In fact, recent studies published suggest that biofuels cause more greenhouse gas emissions when the destruction of natural ecosystems is taken into consideration.

Biofuel supporters state that biofuels save up to 60% of carbon emissions. These claims are largely fraudulent. Depending on the "tester", ethanol fuel provides little if any difference in exhaust pipe emissions on current car models. What it does have, however, is significant levels of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde emissions. Acetaldehyde is a suspected neurotoxin and has been banned as a carcinogen in California.

Recently the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a report stating that use of corn-based ethanol instead of traditional gasoline has no impact on greenhouse gas emissions. They even went so far as to conclude that the use of biofuels will ultimately expand the use of fossil fuels because of an increased demand for fertilizer and irrigation to expand crop-growing acreage.

There are also facts about ethanol that are little known. It is highly corrosive to pipelines and fuel systems. Ethanol requires special new gas pumps. It also holds at least 30% less energy per gallon than regular gasoline. This translates directly into at least a 25% decrease in fuel economy if using the standard 85% fuel blend.

The US has been developing biofuels for over 30 years. It is becoming more and more apparent that the same groups who brought us oil inflation are now creating food inflation. This is the same cast of characters who gave us the Iraq War, the fight over oil control, GM seeds, and Terminator seeds. The same groups who raised awareness about the "problem of over-population"... these are the same groups who are now behind the world transition from food grains to biofuel grains.

The belief that we can replace our oil dependency with biofuels is becoming the most significant threat to our planet's food supply since the creation of Genetically Modified crops. A direct result of this biofuel transition is that the world's reserve stocks of grain have been greatly reduced over the last 7-8 years. Reserve stocks of all grains fell to an unprecedented 57 days of consumption in 2006. This resulted in world grain prices soaring 100% over the last 18 months. We have experienced a 300% rise in oil prices since the end of 2000.

The biofuel trend is not only in the US, incidentally. There is a growing global rush toward planting for biofuel. Both the EU and Brazil are becoming heavily involved. Huge crop plantations in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador and Paraguay are taking over forests and grasslands. In the EU, biofuels are produced using the rapeseed plant (a common animal feed). The result of this will be a world-wide rise in meat prices. The EU has set a target minimum requirement of 10% of farmland devoted to biofuel cultivation. China is also heavily involved in biofuel production and has reduced their food crop farmland as well.

The new demand for biofuel is directly linked to our plummeting grain reserve and soaring food prices. Biofuel demand is also connecting food prices to oil prices. The end result is that people are directly competing with cars for the same grains. A new era has emerged where oil and food are interchangeable commodities because just about any crop can be converted into fuel. The price of oil is now starting to set the price of food.

About the author

Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything! - Current Events - Simply Abundant Living

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