Experts warn of long-term climate change impacts on food

The United States, a major international corn exporter, reserves 40 percent of its corn acreage for biofuels production. U.S. corn has hit record highs of above $8 per bushel this summer.

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Environmentalists and poverty activists have pushed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to waive or end a rule that requires refiners to blend 13.2 billion gallons of corn ethanol into traditional fuel this year. They contend it contributes to some of the price shocks in global food markets that the drought has exacerbated.

Lawmakers, along with livestock allies on Capitol Hill, have joined those calls asking EPA to waive or end the rule. They explain EPA can do so when meeting the corn ethanol mandate causes severe economic or environmental harm.

Governors from four states — Arkansas, Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina — have filed a waiver request with EPA to get out of the rule.

Biofuels industry groups have called the “food versus fuel” logic erroneous. They maintain corn speculation, rather than the corn ethanol rule, has led to skyrocketing prices.

On top of that, the groups say EPA can only waive the corn ethanol rule if refiners will have difficulty meeting blending targets. Plenty of flexibility exists in the program to ensure that will not be a problem this year, they have said.