Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, called the recent criticism of ethanol by foreign officials “a big joke.” He questioned why they were not also blaming a drought in Australia that reduced the wheat crop and the growing demand for meat in China and India.
“You make ethanol out of corn,” he said. “I bet if I set a bushel of corn in front of any of those delegates, not one of them would eat it.”
Fair enough senator. I wouldn’t eat it either. Here are some of the things I would eat. I would eat the beef, pork, poultry and fish that are fed by that corn. I would eat any number of the thousands of products that are made from that corn. I would eat the cheese made from the milk of dairy cows fed by that corn. I would eat any number of the thousands of products that are made from the soybeans that corn displaced due to its high price. I would eat any of the thousands of products made by substitution commodities like wheat, barley, rice and sorghum that have increased in price due to the rise in the cost of corn.
Come on senator. We know that ethanol is good for the Iowa economy. We know that it reduces the use of foreign oil. We know that ethanol mandates have less to do with the increase in the cost of food products than does high fuel costs and increased demand. But please, senator, don’t insult our intelligence by implying that, since raw field corn is barely edible, its diversion for other uses has no impact on the price of foodstuffs around the world. For years we in Iowa have bragged that we are the breadbasket of the world. If that wasn’t a lie, of course diverting corn from food to fuel is going to have an impact on the price of food.