Corn Industry Brazenly Turns Gulf Disaster Into Marketing Opportunity


Turns out Big Corn cares more about profit and marketability than environmental sustainability. Say what?

As if being bombarded with oil from below and chemical dispersants from above weren’t enough, the Gulf of Mexico also has to endure marketing rhetoric from a long-time tormentor: the corn industry.

Industrial corn production is indisputably linked to the massive hypoxic “dead zone” that emerges in the Gulf every year. According to a 2008 peer-reviewed paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Nitrogen leaching from fertilized corn fields to the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River system is a primary cause of the bottom-water hypoxia that develops on the continental shelf of the northern Gulf of Mexico each summer.” And as corn production ramps up to satisfy government ethanol mandates, the amount of nitrogen flowing into the Gulf will likely increase by between 10 and 34 percent by 2022, the report states. That surging nitrogen load will make it “nearly impossible” to slow the growth of the already New Jersey-sized dead zone, the report concludes.

Meanwhile, how the Gulf’s two ecological calamities – the spill and the dead zone – will interact is anyone’s guess. Early indications are not encouraging, reports the Minnesota Post.

So you might expect the corn shills to maintain a respectful silence as BP’s oil disaster unfolds. Instead, the corn industry is ludicrously presenting itself as the Gulf’s salvation.

Continue reading the full story over on Grist.

Editor’s note: Article by Tom Philpott. Originally published by our friends at Grist is a media organization that has been dishing out environmental news and commentary with a humorous twist since 1999. Be sure to visit them and say hi, and follow Grist on Twitter, too!


Image: eutrophication&hypoxia