Corn is for eatin.

It’s time to realize that making more gas won’t solve the problem. Especially, when we start making it out of corn. No where does gasoline fit into Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, however, food sure does.

If we continue to take corn off the table and put it in the gas tank, we’ll be headed for riots in the streets sooner than later.

If we must insist on making ethanol, we need to look to kudzu, a fast growing weed, that requires very little extra effort by the farmer, hemp (yeah, ganja makes better ethanol) or other non-edible bio waste (corn stalks) etc.

The fact that Obama is still supporting corn subsidies makes me question if he’s already started sucking from the teat of the lobbyists:

Marketplace: Campaigns clash over ethanol
Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” back in May of 2007, Barack Obama defended his support for government subsidies for ethanol.

Barack Obama: If we decided that we were going to make the kind of investment I’ve proposed — $150 billion — then I think at the end of the decade, we could have an auto industry that has significantly reduced our consumption of oil.

About the same time, also on “Meet the Press,” McCain explained that he’s against subsidies, but he said he’s changed his position on ethanol itself.

John McCain: When oil is $10, $15 a barrel, then ethanol does not makes sense. When oil is $60 plus a barrel, than ethanol does make sense. I still oppose the subsidies to it.

That is where the two presumptive candidates differ. Some of Obama’s critics wonder why he’s still supporting government subsidies for corn-based ethanol.

Richard Wiles is the executive director of the Environmental Working Group.

Richard Wiles: I think it’s clearly time to revisit ethanol mandates.

Obama has said the federal government might have to rethink its support for ethanol made from corn because of skyrocketing corn prices. But the New York Times reports some of Obama’s top supporters and advisers have ties to the ethanol industry. The Obama campaign says he supports ethanol on its merits. McCain, meanwhile, says we should lift tariffs on imported sugar cane and use that to make ethanol.

But would any of these suggestions help voters right away? No.

Joel Darmstadter of Resources for the Future says the real short term solution isn’t sexy enough. It’s conservation.

The best first move we could make toward conservation is to eliminate all corporate welfare and instead start offering tax breaks for those who walk to work (an idea I first floated here in 2006).

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3 Responses

  1. Biofuelsimon June 24, 2008 / 9:41 am
    Hey David, get the shoemaking lobby on your side and you’re onto a winner with the tax breaks idea.
    We get interest free loans to buy bicycles where I work (in the UK).
    You’ll be unlucky to get food riots in the US (some of your poorest people are also your fattest) but burning corn instead of eating it sure puts the price up.

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  2. Bruce Kettelle June 26, 2008 / 9:36 pm
    World food consuption is rising quickly every day especially in China and India where they are adding more processed food to their diets as their economies grow.

    The ethanol debate is an offshoot caused by the incredible runup in oil price. It is further exacebated by two consecutive years of modest world grain production probably caused by Al Gore :)..

    Hopefully next year there won’t be floods in the midwest and droughts in Australia and the grain bins will become so full again we will be bringing back support for corn ethanol. But until the 2009 crop comes in food will be extremely expensive with or without ethanol or expensive oil.

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