As more and more corn is being converted into fuel, we forget that corn is a food source, and the biofuel industry is taking its toll on the poor in such places as Guatemala. The increasing corn exports to the United States is hurting the local population with the increasing cost of food, mainly corn. Corn is the main ingredient in making tortillas, and where 15 cents once bought eight tortillas, now it only buys four. And eggs have tripled in price because chickens eat cornfeed and that also contributes to the vicious cycle.
In rural areas, food farmers struggle to find places to sow seeds for corn crops for human consumption because the land is at a premium in this poor country that has bowed down to the call for bio-fuels. One farmer was planting corn in the median of a narrow highway with trucks zooming by because he has to feed his family. The recent laws in the United States and Europe mandate the increasing use of biofuels in automobiles which has had far reaching effects as land once used for food for humans, has become more valuable for growing the corn needed for vehicle fuel. And not only has this become a problem in Guatemala, but the same type of situation exist in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
With its corn based diet and proximity to the U.S., Central America has long been at the mercy of the U.S.’s corn policy, since America uses 40 percent of its corn crop to make biofuels. Most of Guatemalans good land is owned by just a few families, and is used to produce the raw materials needed to make biofuels which is not only corn, but sugar cane and African palms. With less food crops being planted, and the high cost of what food there is, 50 percent of the Guatemalan children are malnourished, and according to the United Nations, that’s the fourth-highest in the world. With mandates that dictates that all fuels must contain 10 percent biofuels to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, the benefactors as usual, are the large oil companies that are making money hand over fist.
The demand for bio-fuels has some countries in that well known “catch 22”, with the sugar industry employing 60,000 workers, and the palm industry employing 17,000 and with a poor economy, jobs are a blessing. But that's not doing a thing for those that live in the poorest part of these participating countries who need food not biofuel. Somehow we as a world will have to come up with a reasonable compromise to battle global warming, and still let no one go hungry.