Home > B2, Learning > Ethanol: Food vs. Fuel

Ethanol: Food vs. Fuel


Ever since global warming has become a major crisis, the world has sought a new alternative for fuel.  They looked to ethanol to become a common source of fuel. Ethanol is great for the environment, but the problem that it is sourced from corn crops has become a dilemma in the U.S.  Deciding what to use the corn crop for: either to produce more corn or more ethanol is in question and needs a solid answer to decide the future of fuel.

The U.S. ended up choosing to produce more ethanol, which was established from the policy made in “2005 when Congress set requirements of corn to be used for automotive fuel. In 2007, the Energy Independence and Security Act greatly increased those requirements to improve air quality and become more energy secure”(McDonald). The U.S. is now the world’s largest producer of ethanol followed by Brazil, which is the world’s top user.  The United States used “44% of this years corn crop” to produce ethanol (McDonald).  The United Nations, though, has asked the U.S. to ease its ethanol mandate.  The reason why is because the U.S. is in a drought in the Midwest region and this has caused food prices to go up.  The United States is also the “world leading producer and exporter of staple grains” and these crop shortages are affecting global markets (McDonald).  In addition, the only reason ethanol policy was created was to reduce the greenhouse gasses, but the “irony is that a study done at Princeton suggests that corn ethanol does little to reduce greenhouse gas compared with gasoline”(Cendrowski).  Nevertheless, ethanol is now only created as a way to make income and has caused a problem with the worlds food supply.

This current issue relates back to our economics class for multiple reasons.  There is a shortage of the corn crop due to the drought and it is being utilized for split resources. Another example that this relates back to class is because this concerns a trade-off for the United States.  The trade-off is to either use the corn crop to generate ethanol or use it to produce food.  Citizens believe that they are using too much on ethanol, even though there is a higher percentage of food being produced.  This dilemma is also portraying how the United States is a mixed economy.  Privately owned businesses that produce corn crops are given guidelines how much of the resource should be manufactured for ethanol and how much allocated for food.   In my opinion, the laws will need to be revised to accommodate the current scarcity of crop being produced because food supply is a higher priority than fuel.

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Categories: B2, Learning

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