Over the past few years, as the demand for fuel has increased globally, people, especially businesses and companies, have started exploring different fuel production methods. One common method that is gaining popularity today is the use of corn to produce vehicle fuel ethanol. This has attracted a lot of attention, and many large-scale operations have been conducted to find out its true potential.
Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol and grain alcohol has been produced for quite some time now by using different resources such as grains, sugarcane, potatoes, fruits, etc.
In recent years ethanol has also been produced using corn. This corn-based alternative for fuel has helped countries such as the US, reducing their dependency on other countries for oil. Further, it has added greater significance to farming and agriculture. Farmers especially have been quite happy about this shift and have been able to make surplus revenue from the increase in demand for corn.
Currently, 78 ethanol-producing plants are being constructed within the US. This industry has also already created at least 155,000 jobs. These statistics alone shed light on how widely this method of fuel production is growing.
Criticism on The Usage of Corn For Fuel
However, it is also important to mention here that this dependency on corn for fuel production has also attracted a great deal of criticism, with many questioning the very idea of corn production for non-nutritional purposes considering that in many parts of the world, food shortages and widespread hunger is still an intense problem. Keeping this in mind, it sounds almost unfair that countries with stabilized economies are using food resources to power vehicles, while those located primarily in third world countries go to bed hungry. The primary responsibility of the global community as a collective unit must be to take care of fundamental needs, and only then can other economic uses be explored.
Moreover, this has also been criticized from an economic aspect as well as the entire process of growing crops, investing in fertilizers pesticides, and then the conversion into fuel itself requires some capital-intensive procedures. The rise in this corn-based fuel has also brought about uncertainty and drastic changes in the market, making it largely unpredictable.
It is also important to evaluate this issue from the lens of environmental sustainability. Recently, studies have been conducted to investigate the environmental impact that corn-based ethanol fuel is leaving behind. These studies have come up with some rather unfortunate revelations. It has been said that corn-based ethanol results in net emissions that are even worse than the emissions from Gasoline. According to the study's author, 'the carbon intensity of corn-based ethanol is not less than Gasoline and can be at least 24% higher’
Further, the farming practices through which corn is obtained itself involve unsustainable practices such as the usage of fertilizers and pesticides that result in greenhouse gas emissions and other problems such as water pollution and damaged marine life.