Ethanol's growing cost to our food security

Ethanol profits are rapidly destroying the pristine grasslands of the Great Plains. Over 1.2 million acres, an area the size Rhode Island plus New York City and Los Angeles, have has been plowed open and seeded for ethanol corn crops in the past seven years.

From sfgate.com we read:

What the green-energy program has made profitable, however, is far from green. A policy intended to reduce global warming is encouraging a farming practice that actually could worsen it.

That's because plowing into untouched grassland releases carbon dioxide that has been naturally locked in the soil. It also increases erosion and requires farmers to use fertilizers and other industrial chemicals. In turn, that destroys native plants and wipes out wildlife habitats.

Chemicals kill the grass. Machines remove the rocks. Then tractors plow it three times to break up the sod and prepare it for planting.

More than 1.2 million acres of grassland have been lost since the federal government required that gasoline be blended with increasing amounts of ethanol, an Associated Press analysis of satellite data found. Plots that were wild grass or pastureland seven years ago are now corn and soybean fields.

That's in addition to the 5 million acres of farmland that had been aside for conservation - more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined - that have vanished since Obama took office.

Those 5 million additional acres were originally set aside by to prevent topsoil erosion and as a national security food reserve to grow food during times of famine or war. This reserve had been ruthless plundered by this Administration for the sole benefit of the ethanol lobby and their campaign contributions to Obama.

With our new energy reserves from North Dakota plus oil and natural gas imports from Canada, do we still need to rip open grasslands and expose the ancient topsoil to erosion, setting up conditions that caused the Dust Bowl of the 1930's?

In 2010, [ethanol] fuel became the No. 1 use for corn in America, a title it held in 2011 and 2012 and narrowly lost this year.

Congress and the Administration continue to heavily subsidize the ethanol industry at the taxpayer's expense. Rising meat and dairy prices continue to reflect the high cost of corn feed, while third world nations pay higher prices for processed corn products. Tens of millions of consumers pay directly or indirectly to support our nations ethanol insanity.

Not mentioned in this article, but another critical threat to America's food supply is the plundering of the Ogallala Aquifer for ethanol profits. More here and here.

As global cooling over the next couple of decades changes our rainfall patterns and shortens our growing seasons, we can expect shortfalls in corn and soybean production in our county. We no longer keep food corn stocks at high levels, since there is too much money to be made in subsidized ethanol. So, after just one or two years of poor energy crop performance, the US will have to face exploding food prices and will be unwilling or unable to export significant amounts of food to many poorer nations around the world whose populations are already are on the edge of caloric malnutrition.

As America continues to deliberately turn food into fuel, we need to ask a fundamental question.  Is our blind avarice for ethanol profits worth the long-term damage to our land and our basic ability to securely feed our neighbors and ourselves?


Ethanol profits are rapidly destroying the pristine grasslands of the Great Plains. Over 1.2 million acres, an area the size Rhode Island plus New York City and Los Angeles, have has been plowed open and seeded for ethanol corn crops in the past seven years.

From sfgate.com we read:

What the green-energy program has made profitable, however, is far from green. A policy intended to reduce global warming is encouraging a farming practice that actually could worsen it.

That's because plowing into untouched grassland releases carbon dioxide that has been naturally locked in the soil. It also increases erosion and requires farmers to use fertilizers and other industrial chemicals. In turn, that destroys native plants and wipes out wildlife habitats.

Chemicals kill the grass. Machines remove the rocks. Then tractors plow it three times to break up the sod and prepare it for planting.

More than 1.2 million acres of grassland have been lost since the federal government required that gasoline be blended with increasing amounts of ethanol, an Associated Press analysis of satellite data found. Plots that were wild grass or pastureland seven years ago are now corn and soybean fields.

That's in addition to the 5 million acres of farmland that had been aside for conservation - more than Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite National Parks combined - that have vanished since Obama took office.

Those 5 million additional acres were originally set aside by to prevent topsoil erosion and as a national security food reserve to grow food during times of famine or war. This reserve had been ruthless plundered by this Administration for the sole benefit of the ethanol lobby and their campaign contributions to Obama.

With our new energy reserves from North Dakota plus oil and natural gas imports from Canada, do we still need to rip open grasslands and expose the ancient topsoil to erosion, setting up conditions that caused the Dust Bowl of the 1930's?

In 2010, [ethanol] fuel became the No. 1 use for corn in America, a title it held in 2011 and 2012 and narrowly lost this year.

Congress and the Administration continue to heavily subsidize the ethanol industry at the taxpayer's expense. Rising meat and dairy prices continue to reflect the high cost of corn feed, while third world nations pay higher prices for processed corn products. Tens of millions of consumers pay directly or indirectly to support our nations ethanol insanity.

Not mentioned in this article, but another critical threat to America's food supply is the plundering of the Ogallala Aquifer for ethanol profits. More here and here.

As global cooling over the next couple of decades changes our rainfall patterns and shortens our growing seasons, we can expect shortfalls in corn and soybean production in our county. We no longer keep food corn stocks at high levels, since there is too much money to be made in subsidized ethanol. So, after just one or two years of poor energy crop performance, the US will have to face exploding food prices and will be unwilling or unable to export significant amounts of food to many poorer nations around the world whose populations are already are on the edge of caloric malnutrition.

As America continues to deliberately turn food into fuel, we need to ask a fundamental question.  Is our blind avarice for ethanol profits worth the long-term damage to our land and our basic ability to securely feed our neighbors and ourselves?


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