Salutory fact of the day

I have just learned from DFID’s Chief Economist, Tony Venables, that the grain required to fill a 25-gallon SUV gas tank with ethanol will feed one person for a year.

Published by Owen Barder

Owen is Senior Fellow and Director for Europe at the Center for Global Development and a Visiting Professor in Practice at the London School of Economics. Owen was a civil servant for a quarter of a century, working in Number 10, the Treasury and the Department for International Development. Owen hosts the Development Drums podcast, and is the author Running for Fitness, the book and website. Owen is on Twitter and

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  1. That only becomes an issue if there is insufficient grain to feed the people. And as we know already, the world produces all the food it needs, it just doesn’t distribute it very well.The big question is whether net food importers will shift land out of food production and into fuel and what problems this will cause. It will almost certainly increase the cost of staple products, and given that biofuel is not likely to be greatly cheaper than the oil equivalent, does that mean that poor people are going to see the real cost of food rise.PS – like your site by the way. 

  2. …and to replace gasoline with ethanol in the US would require 97 per cent of the surface area of the US to be planted with corn expressly for that purpose…

  3. It is really sad that in the clamor to find replacements for fossil fuels, for purposes of political expediency, we are turning to the very inefficient bio-fuels.  The political favoribility of bio fuels among the liberals, the farm lobby, the President, the military hawks who want to reduce the dependence on ‘foreign oil’ and increasingly, even among the dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, make them a deadly proposition indeed.  Can you see any presidential candidate in the build up to the Iowa caucus passing up the chance to give more sops to the farmers in Iowa to stimulate ethanol production?

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