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Old 07-31-2012, 10:43 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by shovel View Post
If ethanol was made from an inedible plant, would this still be a point of contention? SH2 grade corns aren't even table edible (shriveled appearance when ripe, very chewy, not tasty) and barely useful for starch because they lack many of the enzymes that produce starches from the early sugars in the kernels. For the most part, SH2 are only useful to make DDG/DDS for the derivatives market and the byproduct of DDG manufacture from SH2 stock happens to be a flammable liquid useable in many automotive engines. Is this still robbing food from your table? If so, how do you figure?
SH2 (shrunken) is a gene that prevents sugar from being converted to starch in the corn kernel and is one of the genes used to produce super sweet corn for table use that will hold its sweetness for over a week after harvest (unlike traditional sweet corn cultivars that lose their sweetness within hours of being picked. SH2 corn is a sweet corn used for human consumption. The corn used for ethanol production, livestock feed, and for conversion into various corn derived chemicals is dent corn, a hard corn that converts all of its sugars into starch.

Even if ethanol was made from an inedible plant, it would still be competing for the limited supply of arable land, land that could otherwise be producing a food crop, so it would still be cutting into the food supply.

The biggest problem with our ethanol program is that it is in the form of a mandate, so they have to produce that no matter what else happens. They are federally mandated to produce 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol in 2012. So to produce that 13.2 billion gallons of ethanol they require about 5 billion bushels of corn to produce it, which was about 40% of the total corn crop in 2011. But since it is a mandate, ethanol is the first at the "trough" for any available corn and any other uses are filled after ethanol has taken its share, which works ok in a normal growing year. But if there is a severe drought (and this is the first really bad growing year since the ethanol program was implemented) then the corn market gets badly skewed by the effects of the mandate.

Say the drought was bad enough that the corn crop is down 50% compared with last year's. That 5 billion bushels that was 40% of last year's corn crop is now 80% of this year's corn crop. After ethanol takes its mandated share, that leaves only 20% of the crop remaining (equal to 10% of last year's) for all of the other uses of dent corn. Guess what that will do to the price of corn and any food, pharmaceutical, and chemical products derived from corn.

Last edited by basjoos; 07-31-2012 at 10:51 AM..
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