As we reported last week, there are now an unprecedented seven governors calling on the Obama Administration to suspend the Federal mandate requiring so much biofuels that corn ethanol now constitutes 10 percent of U.S. gasoline consumption,— which is spreading devastation in the livestock and meat sectors nationally, as well as kinking the international food chain. An international food catastrophe is unfolding as one-third of the planet's annual corn output has come to be concentrated in the U.S. Midwest, where the extreme drought and heat has cut this year's crop badly.
From an op-ed in a Gannett publication in Indiana, to a Baltimore Sun column, to articles in U.S. News & World Report, Huffington Post, and beyond, over the past week more media outlets are driving the point home that to protect the world's food supply, the U.S. Renewable Fuels Standard's ethanol mandate must be suspended or terminated.
"We are running low on high-priced food," writes Indiana farmer Wayne Townsend in the Muncie Star Press. "Indeed, we are in a mandated crisis. We may have to choose between food on your table or fuel in your tank. The editorial [published earlier] seems to choose fuel. Sorry, we think food is more important....
"When we set out to drain the swamp in the mission to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, no one expected that we would export one billion gallons of ethanol a year. Yet, we continue to do that in the face of scarce and high-priced feed grains and high food prices. Why?"
About 40% of this year's U.S. drought-ravagaed corn crop will go to ethanol production.
As U.S. News chief business correspondent Rick Newman puts it, "The math is fairly straightforward: growing ethanol mandate plus dwindling ethanol crop equals shortage of whatever's left over. And those 'left overs' are important to consumers, not only because of the corn humans eat, but the feed animals require. The bottom line is potentially major price hikes on everything from tortilla chips to turkeys. In fact, a study from three Purdue University economists suggests that cutting back on the fuel mandates could reduce food prices by as much as 20 percent in the year 2013."
In Huffington Post, MIT and UCal Davis professors, after debunking myths about ethanol, conclude succinctly, "It's time to stop requiring cars to burn food."
That observation was put more starkly by Phil Kerpen in an opinion piece in the Baxter Bulletin of Mountain Home, Arkansas: "It always is foolish for a country to order the burning of its food supply, but it takes a special kind of depravity to do it in the midst of a severe drought."
In a Baltimore Sun column, Charles Campbell puts that in graphic terms: "Corn required to fill a 25-gallon SUV tank with ethanol would feed a starving Asian for a year. Filling that 25-gallon tank twice a month requires a ten-acre farm. Estimates are that 30,000 children die every day somewhere in the world from starvation or diseases induced by malnutrition. Various international agencies have signed onto a recommendation to remove provisions of current national policies that mandate biofuels production. There is no debate. The use of corn-based ethanol in gasoline was a flawed policy at its inception and should be eliminated."