By Dan Shapley
Fuel grown on American farms is a concept any conservationist, farmer or politician can love. But the realities of corn-based ethanol â the wonder fuel that pops up in nearly every politician''s energy policy â is complicated. There''s a relatively small energy benefit to growing corn for fuel, since it takes so much fuel â in the form of petroleum-based fertilizers, for instance â to grow the stuff. And the net reduction in carbon emissions is also slight. Then there''s that pesky need to grow food on farms, and the fact that growing so much corn for fuel drives up the cost of a slew of common products that rely on corn oil and other corn-based ingredients. While it''s renewable, and offers an energy security solution â it isn''t pumped out of the ground in the Mid East â scientists are investing a lot of time with other biofuels that may offer more advantages than corn, according to a story in the May 17 Los Angeles Times.