No, I’m not hanging out with the 80’s hair bands at the local watering hole, I’m banging my head against the wall. And it’s not a good look for me.
Yesterday it was an email, today it’s a comment on an article in the St Louis Post Dispatch, tomorrow it will be the tweet that is re-tweeted until it twitters out. And then the next day it will be the link on my news feed in facebook. What am I talking about? The never ending variations of the questions/claims that making ethanol from U.S. corn starves children in the poorest nations and converts land that would otherwise grow “food” to corn acreage.
But that’s okay, because one more question, email, tweet or status update is another opportunity to share accurate information regarding ethanol.
• Is there enough corn? Yes.
• Does making ethanol mean I won’t have corn to eat? No.
• Does growing corn for ethanol mean we won’t grow food? No.
• That’s not what other people say. I know.
There are all kinds of reasons the people will blog, write, say, tweet, youtube or status update that ethanol is bad. The corn industry is often criticized as an information provider about ethanol because we have something to gain. Um, ya, we don’t grow corn for free. But why would we cut off our nose (feeding livestock, exports to other countries, human food uses, industrial applications) to spite our face (ethanol)?
In case that reference didn’t make sense, let me say it more plainly. Does it make sense that corn farmers would forsake one or many market opportunities just to add another? No. Does it make sense that corn farmers are growing more corn using less land, chemicals, fertilizer, water, time and fuel? Yes. So does it make sense that they would continue to look for ways to use corn? Yes.
Well motivation is a two way street, folks. The naysayers have their own personal motivations and opportunities to gain. (Can you say resume padding, book deals, feature films, and speaking engagements?)
And FYI, being against something, in this case ethanol, doesn’t ordain you with some sort of “hall pass” to make claims that are irrelevant, irreverent, and irresponsible.
Here are some facts about ethanol and facts about corn. And before you go criticizing the source or calling me a liar, consider that these numbers come from the United States Department of Agriculture and their National Agricultural Statistics Service. That’s USDA NASS for short. Other numbers come from the U.S Energy Information Administration or USEIA.
Tricia Braid Terry
ICGA/ICMBA Communications Director