WASHINGTON — Calls for the United States to cut subsidies for corn ethanol and reduce production mandates continued building this month in a variety of quarters.
In a 10-point plan prepared for last week's G8 Summit in Japan, the World Bank argued that increased biofuels production in Europe and the United States, along with rising energy and fertilizer costs, among other factors, were responsible for globally rising food costs.
Similarly, United Kingdom Prime Minister Gordon Brown's office — once a major proponent of biofuel technology — released a paper at the summit that concluded that “the risk that biofuel policies could exacerbate global food price increases over the coming decade needs to be much better understood.” The paper also said the G8 governments need to “work to develop new global benchmarks for sustainable biofuel production and use.”
Opposition to corn-based ethanol has been coalescing within the United States as well. Earlier this month, 51 House Republicans urged the Environmental Protection Agency to immediately reduce required ethanol production targets for the year, noting that the increased demand for corn from the ethanol industry, combined with recent flooding in the Midwest, could cause corn prices to rise even further.
About one-third of the U.S. corn crop will be converted to fuel this year, boosting the price of corn, as well as the price of animal feeds.