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What Happens If You Cancel Biofuels Tomorrow? Freed-Up U.S. Corn Alone Means Food for 130 Million People!

May 9, 2008 (EIRNS)—This release was issued yesterday by the Lyndon LaRouche Political Action Committee (LPAC).

Order the world's biofuels plants to shut down immediately, and you free millions of tons of food, and farm capacity to provide for the needs for the millions of people now going hungry.

A look at just the U.S. Cornbelt makes the point. It is the center of global ethanol, accounting for 6.4 billion gallons out of 13.1 billion produced worldwide in 2007. (Brazil is second, with 5.1 bil gallons from cane). The volume of corn required to produce this much U.S. ethanol (figuring 2.77 gallons of ethanol from one 56-pound bushel of corn) would provide food for 130 million persons!

This simple calculation presumes the processing of the corn into plain meal, and similar basic products, plus taking into account losses in handling, etc. (The factor used here is for .38 metric ton of grain a person/year—emergency rations). Alternatively part of the corn could be going into the livestock feed chain, as most of it has done in the past, and provide animal protein for a lesser number of people. (It takes about 8 pounds of grain to produce a pound of beef, and six pounds or less for a pound of pork, and still less for a pound of poultry meat.)

But, however you refine the calculations, the point is clear that the numbers of people who could be having sufficient food, are in the millions. Continuing biofuels is genocide. Those immediately in line to sicken and die are in the 70 most food import-dependent, lowest income nations—what in the 1975 food crisis were called, MFAs—Most Seriously Affected. (The list will be made available.)

At the present rate, over 12% of the world's corn harvest is going for ethanol, as the U.S. produces half of the world's corn, and about a quarter of the U.S. harvest is now being sucked into 135 ethanol plants. The corn (maize) required to produce the volume of ethanol to fill just one tankful—20 gallons—of a modern automobile, can support a person for half a year.

If this insanity were stopped tomorrow by the equivalent of executive order, it wouldn't be easy to deal with all the logistics of how to process, ship, store and deliver the food and livestock feed product. But farmers, processors, relief workers and others have the knowhow to figure it out. There are now hundreds of farm/food activists internationally prepared to deal with these concrete questions of emergency food mobilization. This provides the morale for the longer term job of acting to double food production in the shortest time period ahead.

Stop Non-USA Ethanol: Food for Another 33 Millions!

The line-up of ethanol-producing nations, whose output adds up to the total of 13.102 billion gallons in 2007 is as follows, according to the Renewable Fuels Association (www.ethanolrfa.org/industry/statistics/)

Country       Millions of Gallons
                   of Ethanol

U.S.A.             6,498.6
Brazil             5,019.2
European Union*      570.3
China*               486.0
Canada*              211.3
Thailand              79.2
Colombia              74.9
India                 52.8
Central America       39.6
Australia             26.4
Turkey*               15.8
Pakistan               9.2
Peru                   7.9
Argentina*             5.2
Paraguay*              4.7

Total             13,101.7

If the other grain-ethanol producing nations (marked *) converted their grain output back to food, this could provide for 33 millions.

The calculation for how many people could be supported if Brazil's cane ethanol capacity were converted to food production can also be made, but is less simple than for U.S. corn. Besides in the Americas, cane ethanol is even being produced in Pakistan, for shipment to the European Union.

Canada Biofuels Plant Takes Wheat from 1 Million People

On top of the ethanol, huge volumes of oil crops are being processed for biofuels, from canola (rapeseed) to soy and palm oil. There are gigantic biofuels plants under construction in several key farmbelts worldwide. For example, in Canada, Dominion Energy Services LLC has broken ground for a $400-million integrated biodiesel and ethanol refinery in Innisfall, Alberta. It is to produce 300 million gallons a year (100 mil gal ethanol from wheat and 200 mil gal canola biodiesel). It is to use one million tons of wheat a year—the amount that would be food for a million people for that time.