Food for gas tanks or hungry stomachs?

In 2015, according to the USDA, 5.25 billion bushels of corn biofuel-photo(maize) was used for biofuel (specifically, ethanol). There are 56 lbs to a bushel of corn (flour-type). That’s 294 billion lbs of high quality flour-type corn per year wasted to make fuel.

How many persons can be fed on that amount of corn? Interestingly, the most recent World Hunger Report (2015) from the FAO puts the number of hungry persons worldwide at 795 million. Divide 294 billion lbs of corn into 795 million persons and you get 369.8 lbs of corn per persons. Divide by 365 days in a year, and that’s enough corn to give every hungry person on the plant one pound of corn per day for a year.

My recent tweet:
Corn grown in the U.S. for biofuel: 294 billion lbs #Worldhunger 795 million persons. That’s one lb of corn per person per day for one year.

In the parable of Jesus about the rich man and the starving beggar (Lk 16), at least the rich man ate the food that he denied to Lazarus. How much worse is it to keep food from the hungry of the world so that we can turn it into fuel for our cars?

Is it such a difficult decision to make, to use these agriculture resources for food instead of fuel? See this Forbes article: It’s Final — Corn Ethanol Is Of No Use. “The International Institute for Sustainable Development was not so diplomatic, and estimates that the CO2 and climate benefits from replacing petroleum fuels with biofuels like ethanol are basically zero (PDF file).”

Using food to make fuel does NOT help the environment. And it’s an horrific display of our lack of priorities to use such a vast quantity of food for our gas tanks, instead of the stomachs of the hungry.


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