28 March 2011

China SignPost™ (洞察中国) #30–The Saudi Arabia of Corn: Reduce U.S. ethanol production and boost corn exports to China to trim the trade deficit and ensure China’s food security

Gabe Collins and Andrew Erickson, The Saudi Arabia of Corn: Reduce U.S. ethanol production and boost corn exports to China to trim the trade deficit and ensure China’s food security,” China SignPost™ (洞察中国), No. 30 (28 March 2011).

China SignPost 洞察中国–“Clear, high-impact China analysis.”©

In 2010, the U.S. used roughly 138 million tonnes of corn to produce ethanol—43% of the nation’s total corn crop of 316 million tonnes. This is a phenomenal change from 1980, when less than one million tonnes of corn was used for brewing ethanol in the U.S. When considering the environmental and economic merits of any policy, total costs and benefits must be calculated over the entire lifecycle of a given process—not just for a given stage of usage. Biofuels will constitute an important part of the U.S. and global energy portfolio in the future, but a one-dimensional reliance on corn-based ethanol—with its attendant economic and environmental shortcomings—is not the best approach for maximizing the economic and strategic value of U.S. corn production. …