The U.S. now uses more corn for fuel than feed!


Using corn as fuel is Madness! And not the British band…

The corn ethanol supporters are probably not very familiar with the concept of opportunity cost. Either that, or the subsidies and high corn prices are just to juicy to give up. Only about 20% of all the corn grown in the U.S. now goes to feed humans directly, and more than half of what remains is now being turned into ethanol fuel while the other half goes to feed livestock. The problem is that life-cycle studies show that corn ethanol ranges from barely better than fossil-fuel gasoline to significantly worse, especially if you take into account land use issues and the impact of higher food prices on the poor. Many would agree that corn ethanol is a net loss for society, yet this industry keeps growing…

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Ban on Russian Grain Exports Causes Surge in U.S. Wheat and Corn Prices

wheat fire

A severe drought destroyed one-fifth of the wheat crop in Russia and wildfires swept in to finish off some of the fields that remained.

A temporary ban on Russian grain exports will boost income for U.S. farmers this year, but more demand could cause shipping bottlenecks.Russia, one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, is facing a shrunken crop due to a severe drought. Its announcement Thursday that it will ban grain exports through the end of the year to control domestic prices raises the possibility of stronger-than-expected U.S. exports.


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Monsanto Takes Fight To Control Your Food To Supreme Court

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The battle over the non-regulated status of genetically modified crops has reached the US Supreme Court. Monsanto has, not surprisingly, appealed a lower court decision that halted the continued unregulated release and planting of the agrifood giant’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa.

Background and implications of the case, after the jump…

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‘Corn Smut’ – Revolting Fungus That Could Make You Younger and Healthier

corn smut

“The devil’s corn”

This looks like an alien parasite, or maybe an evil brain, but it’s actually a fungus that attacks corn. U.S. farmers call it “corn smut” and have spent millions to eradicate it. But it’s actually better for you than corn.


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Weed Killer Affects Frogs Sexually

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Messed Up Frogs
The widely used weed killer atrazine affects the sexual development of frogs, raising questions about the effects of its use in the environment, the University of Ottawa said on Thursday.

A study by researchers at the university found that at low levels comparable to those measured in the Canadian environment, fewer tadpoles reached the froglet stage and the ratio of females to males increased.

“Atrazine is one of the top-selling herbicides used worldwide and was designed to inhibit weed growth in cornfields,” the university said in a statement.

Reclaim – A Cellphone Made From Corn

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Sprint and Samsung are ready to demonstrate their great love for the Earth. The two companies have just introduced the Reclaim, a super-eco cellphone made from 80 percent recycled materials. The device — a stout, sliding, QWERTY message-friendly model — is constructed from “bio-plastic” materials made from corn, is free of PVC, and mostly free of BFR (brominated flame retardants)… which are apparently pretty bad. The phone also has a 2 megapixel camera, stereo Bluetooth, can accept microSD cards (we assume) up to 32GB, and has Sprint Navigation onboard.

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Rare Microbe To Help Make A Better Biofuel

Rare Bug To Help Make A Better Biofuel

Zymetis is testing genetically modified bacteria that efficiently convert biomass into sugar.  

A tiny microbe found in the Chesapeake Bay is the focus of intense study for a biotech startup in College Park, MD. Zymetis has genetically modified a rare, cellulose-eating bacterium to break down and convert cellulose into sugars necessary to make ethanol, and it recently completed its first commercial-scale trial. Earlier this year, the company ran the modified microbe through a series of tests in large fermenters and found that it was able to convert one ton of cellulosic plant fiber into sugar in 72 hours. The trial, researchers say, illustrates the organism’s potential in helping to produce ethanol cheaply and efficiently at industrial scales. Zymetis is now raising the first round of venture capital to bring the technology to commercial applications.

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Passenger Jet Powered By Jet Fuel Made From A Weed

Passenger Jet Powered By Jet Fuel Made From A Weed 

 Technicians at UOP examine equipment used to convert jatropha oil into jet fuel.

On December 3, a Boeing 747 belonging to Air New Zealand is scheduled to take off from Auckland, New Zealand, powered in part by a new type of jet fuel made from a weed. A mixture of equal parts biofuel and conventional fuel will run one of the plane’s engines. The biofuel, which could help reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, was developed by UOP, a major supplier of technology for petroleum refining.

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Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger

Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger

A woman sifts through the shells of coffee beans searching for any that were not found.

Hunger bashed in the front gate of Haiti’s presidential palace. Hunger poured onto the streets, burning tires and taking on soldiers and the police. Hunger sent the country’s prime minister packing.

Haiti’s hunger, that burn in the belly that so many here feel, has become fiercer than ever in recent days as global food prices spiral out of reach, spiking as much as 45 percent since the end of 2006 and turning Haitian staples like beans, corn and rice into closely guarded treasures.


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