Corn ethanol biofuels revisited

Corn ethanol is a homegrown way to solve our energy problems.

by Katie Zenk

Over break, I had the chance to think about the recent Minnesota Daily editorial attacking corn ethanol. My hometown is Olivia, Minn., billed âÄúThe Corn Capital of the World.âÄù Of the roughly 3,000 citizens, those who donâÄôt earn their living directly from grain probably make theirs by serving those who do. This issue comes down to our ability to develop our own domestic fuel source, and the authorsâÄô statements about food security are disputable. According to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, our technology has allowed average yields to grow with the demand for corn for ethanol production. Most analysts agree that rises in crop prices have more to do with an increase in inputs like fertilizer than with the advent of ethanol. The authors also question the need for government subsidies, but most farmers arenâÄôt getting rich. They are struggling to cover expenses while producing food for their family and yours. The high safety and labor standards of American farmers mean food production may cost more here than in other places. Our government helps farmers stay in business because every American deserves a stable food supply. And now, with the advent of corn ethanol, the same farmers can help give us a stable energy supply, too. As I drove through town, I also noticed ribbons and homemade red, white and blue signs. My town, like many in Minnesota, has been touched recently by the loss of a young soldier overseas. By using corn ethanol, I know money is going back to my community, to people who care about my own well-being. IâÄôm not sure I can make that claim about other fuels. No one will say corn ethanol is the end-all solution to our energy needs, but it is a valuable stepping stone to energy independence and future generations of cleaner, more efficient biofuels. WeâÄôve got to start somewhere. Katie Zenk University undergraduate student