Opinion: Bio Fuel Feeds Cars But Starves People

With gas prices shooting up, bio ethanol is being actively used around the U.S. to reduce oil imports from foreign countries. However, this seemingly wonderful solution to gasoline crisis has caused the poor to go hungry, as well as corrupt the environment.

Bio ethanol is produced from the starch or sugar of crops, in our case, corn, and is usually mixed in with gasoline up to 10%. The U.S. had already started using bio ethanol around 1995, and by 2010, we are expected to produce up to 100 billion gallons.

Consequently, crop prices have gone up to 20%-30%. Now flour and tortilla prices have increased and as a result, it has causing major food shortage around the world.

It takes about one year’s worth of corn for one person to fill up a large tank with bio ethanol. So basically, cars are being fueled with grains, which should be used to fill empty stomachs of destitute people. Now more farmers are switching to corn planting because it is better for business, so prices for other crops are shooting up as well due to its scarcity.

All the corn produced in the U.S. is currently being used to produce bio ethanol, and corn for actual ‘food’ is being imported from other countries. It is ironic because now that gas imports have been reduced about 12%, corn imports are increasing as well as its prices.

Forests are also being torn down for farm land purposes, and have caused about a 20% increase in carbon emissions. Rain forests in Brazil filter harmful carbon emissions, but are being cut down to produce farm land. Brazil is now the fourth most carbon-emission country.

There is no need to say that the already-heated-up global warming is now on fire. The use of bio ethanol was supposed to promote a healthier environment with lesser carbon emissions, but because forests are disappearing, they have rather increased.

Something has to replace oil, but bio fuel is not the best alternative. Just because they are renewable, does not make it a better choice. Bio fuel may be a temporary option, but should not be relied on as a permanent one. Those who support bio fuel are failing to see the bigger picture: that this shortsighted action will lead to problems in the future.

This opinion was written by Charlene Choo. It was printed in the Temple City Voice on June 4, 2008.


Lee, John. “The Clean Energy Scam.” Time. 27 March 2008. June 2, 2008 http://www.time.com.

Milmo, Cahal. “Biofuel: the burning question.” The Independent. 15 April 2008. Independent.co.uk. June 2, 2008http://www.independent.co.uk.

“State to pump up access to biofuels.” Los Angeles Times. 26 February 2008. 2 June 2008 http://www.latimes.com.  


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