Thursday, August 5, 2010 - 2:20 PM

SYMP 19-3: Food, climate and biofuels

David Pimentel, Cornell University


More than 60% of the human population in the world is currently malnourished. Thus the need for grains and other basic foods is critical.


Growing crops for fuel squanders land, water, and energy resources vital for food production for humans. Using corn, soybeans, and other foods for fuel production increases the prices of foods in the U.S. and world from 10% to 100%. In the U.S., converting more than 33% of corn grain into ethanol provides the nation with less than 1.7% of its oil consumption. In addition, it takes about 1.5 gallons of fossil energy to produce 1 gallon of corn ethanol. This means that in addition to wasting fossil energy, producing corn ethanol is contributing to global climate change.