Monday, July 16, 2007
Ethanol and GMOs
Much of the criticism of ethanol has focused on the exorbitant amount of water and oil needed to produce ethanol, the continued mono-cropping of US farmland, and the subsequent rising cost of food. What has been less widely criticized is the rise in genetically modified corn that ethanol production will create. Currently 61 percent of the US corn crop is genetically modified and that number grows every year. The increase in corn production demanded by ethanol production will result in an automatic increase in genetically modified corn being planted.
In addition, companies are working to create genetically modified strains of corn that will be most readily converted into ethanol, largely by increasing the starch content of the corn. For instance, Monsanto and Cargill are working together and have formed Renessen, a biotechnology and processing company. Renessen has created MAVERA corn, a corn high in starch, that can only be processed in a specific processing plant, owned by Renessen. In addition, if a farmer wishes to sell corn to Renessen, she/he will have to purchase the seed from Renessen since the Renessen processing plant can only process Renessen corn. Thus, the closed loop of corporate control that GM food creates is yet again on display.