In the quest to beat back fossil fuels, cleaner fuels that we can grow seemed like a good idea – until we realized that some, like corn, make a huge dent in the world’s food supply. But that isn’t stopping the U.S. government from giving billions in subsidies to the corn industry in general, and corn ethanol in particular.
Corn-based ethanol gobbled up 76% of federal government renewable energy subsidies in 2007, leaving little for more environmentally sound renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Worse yet, it’s a huge drain on water resources, gulping down up to 2,138 liters of water per liter of ethanol.
This isn’t just an unwise investment – it’s also destroying the rainforest. As American farmers have abandoned soy for subsidized corn, soy prices have risen worldwide – and led to an increase in Amazon deforestation. Brazil is the world’s second-largest producer of soy next to the U.S., and growing demand has meant more clear-cutting for soy plantations.