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[personal profile] frandroid
Next year, the use of US corn for ethanol is forecast to rise to 114 million tonnes - nearly a third of the whole projected US crop. American cars now burn enough corn to cover all the import needs of the 82 nations classed by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) as "low-income food-deficit countries". There could scarcely be a better way to starve the poor.

Source, thanks [ profile] missioncontrol. The article also compiles a list of food riots so far this year.

Date: 2008-04-21 11:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It must be in isolated areas, because we don't have that around here.

It doesn't really have much to do with food riots over rice, though. Also it's a different type of corn than edible corn.

Date: 2008-04-21 10:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The point is that there is limited cultivable land, and farmers can switch crops once or twice a year, so they switch from edible corn to ethanol corn to other crops as prices fluctuate. As corn (and soybeans, as it can also be used for ethanol) becomes more scarce, livestock farmers have to switch to other crops to feed their cattle.

Flooding in Bangladesh caused a local shortage of rice, and there are other factors at play (increased asian prosperity, oil prices, speculation on commodity futures) but what in the past would have been an Indian surplus readily exported there now faces certain conditions, and others like Pakistan suffer as well.

E85 Fueling Station Locations
Ethanol Plants

Gas stations don't indicate total use (industrial users get their gas in bulk, etc.) but that's some indicator there.

Date: 2008-04-21 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But again, the parts of the country that grow corn for ethanol never have nor ever will grow rice. Rice is grown in California (short grain, like Japanese rice, though they may try long grain soon) and Arkansas.

Date: 2008-04-22 03:22 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yeah, but people eat different things. If you are dirt poor and put before eating roti or rice with your dal, you will go for either of which is the cheaper option. Wheat got more expensive in recent years due to droughts in Australia and Canada + ethanol pressure. But now rice is also getting expensive, because of flooding, and there is no cheap wheat to replace the rice. Maybe they even feed rice to some cattle for meat production, who knows. So anyway, now you're poor and both rice and wheat are expensive. You protest. Meanwhile, the EU legislates mandatory ethanol content in gasoline to insure your starvation. You die.

Date: 2008-04-22 03:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ok, yes, but none of that has anything to do with corn AT ALL. Not one iota. The people having rice riots don't eat corn as their staple and never have. Corn does not affect their rice or wheat. At all.

The only place corn affects is Mexico.

ALso, biofuels in Europe come from palm oil, apparently, which starves Indonesians.

I'm not saying biofuels aren't a problem (people should use WVO instead of this other stuff, waste veggie oil), I"m just saying that blaming ethanol for the rice problem is pretty silly.
Edited Date: 2008-04-22 03:41 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-04-22 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Corn does not affect their rice or wheat. At all.

You are mistaken, but I won't push the point any further.

Date: 2008-04-22 02:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Beyond that is the absolutely infuriating effect the rise of corn ethanol specifically is having on agricultural practice in the plains - particularly Nebraska and South Dakota. I've always been conflicted about the use of the Ogallala aquifer in corn farming since farmers are caught between the additional cost and resource expenditure by using reclaimed water OR draining the vast Ogallala aquifer...the big ass pool underneath the corn belt (as if, quoting a Nebraska senator "God put the damn thing there for us to use").

Corn ethanol production is expensive enough and thus producers are draining the aquifer something like 15-20 times faster since so much water is expended in producing ethanol.

I mean, it's been there for only like...5 million years - let's see if we can use the fucking thing up in 30 years, shall we? I'm sure it was going to go bad or dry up if we just left it there anyway...

Date: 2008-04-22 03:25 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
...and God wouldn't want you to tax His resources, either. Amen.

Thanks for naming that aquifer for me, it's been nagging me recently.

Date: 2008-04-22 03:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
The Ogallala is basically one of the only things distinguishing Nebraska from other states that's actually good (No, our exceptionally high residual KKK membership, unicameral legislature and trigger-happy first ban on gay marriage are not, even in Nebraska, considering "good") everyone high school student has to right this bizarre letter of praise essentially addressed directly TO the Ogallala itself. Thankfully, Bush allowed Nebraska to make it part of the No Child Left Behind standardized testing. So yeah, ask anyone from my home state and they should know something about it.

But hey, the tap water in Nebraska tastes holy-fuck amazing as a result. (That hasn't helped tourism, but hey...)

Date: 2008-04-22 03:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're intriguing me. Next hitch-hiking trip I do in the U.S., I'm detouring by there.

Sadly, it seems more and more likely that I won't go on a hitch-hiking trip ever again.

Date: 2008-04-26 02:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Should you go to Nebraska again, could you bring back some of this holy-fuck amazing water? =)


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