The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Greens Lie, Children Die

America’s poorly designed and counterproductive ethanol subsidies are driving up the price of food all over the world, according to a study for the Ford Foundation.

27% of the US corn crop went to subsidized ethanol at a time when food price inflation was causing terrible hardship to poor families.   The USDA estimated (pdf) in 2008 that rising food prices resulted in 130 million additional people considered “undernourished” in the 70 countries analyzed, and others would have been affected by the more recent increases in which ethanol played a role.

Some of the affected were kids, and some of them died.

Other studies have shown that the misbegotten ethanol program does not even cut down on carbon emissions; producing ethanol from corn is inefficient and energy intensive.

“The science is settled,” greens hiss when anyone points out the flaws in their cockamamie policy agenda.

Here’s what’s settled: when it comes to the nuts and bolts of policy, too many greens can’t tell the difference between good ideas and bad ones.  Give them the keys to the car, and they will drive it right into the ditch.

Published on July 20, 2011 11:19 am
  • http://sites.google.com/site/lukelea2/thesoftpath Luke Lea

    Gregg Easterbrook did a piece in the Atlantic a few years ago about how environmental groups blocked the green revolution in Africa in order to preserve indigenous agriculture. Plants before people! It was truly outrageous and deserves to be remembered.

  • srp

    I hate the ethanol policy, but it isn’t entirely clear to me how much it reduces food production, since the total number of acres under cultivation isn’t fixed. In other words high demand for food and the government ethanol subsidy need not crowd one another out since total planting can increase. Of course, intra-growing season, more of one means less of the other.

  • http://www.martinbermangorvine.com Martin Berman-Gorvine

    I think the current misbegotten U.S. ethanol policy is more the product of farm-state legislators than of the environmental movement. Blame where blame is due.

  • gerald

    It would seem most replies come from people unrelated from reality or stepping on to large farm.
    Ethanol is responsable for no toxic production in fuel making process, oil puts 75 or more VOC,sin gas now the more ethanol the more tree aeromatics are replaced,bad thing! It creates oxygen from idiots spewing carbon,we would rather subsidize another Alaskan pipeline that will spill toxic oil, or sendour military to protect oil, or the fact that we will still pay to not plant 85 million acres this year too, not including the fact the world pays a billion acres not to be planted to keep prices of grain high enough to keep fromsubsidizing farmers to make your corn flakes cost less? Who’s kidding who? Ethanol is greener and takes less energy to produce and so.e plants are self sufficient. It is the fault of Obama administration for selli.g off corn supply that could have been distillers dry grind so we could continue ethanol exports to Brazil lime we are now since we make to much for us to use and a dozen plants have closed even sorghum and switchgrass will only add to the supply of fuel as we only eat 10 %of the corn we grow and high value feed is only a bi – broduct
    wake up and do a little investigating my friend owns an ethanol plant. We use ethanol as performance fuel. It is better than gas! It loves to be squeezed and thengibeshigher efficiancy but only big oil will. Mix more bad crap inthe higher blends go, take a pump gas sample to achemistry lab find out what’s in gas!.