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Corn craze makes no sense

Using corn as this country's primary alternative fuel source is dumb.

Cows, chickens, hogs and other food-producing animals all depend on corn as their primary food base. Grow more corn you say to meet the demand for both animal feed and as the main ingredient for an alternative fuel source? There isn't enough farmland in the U.S. to do that.

The U.S. government pays farmers through the Conservation Reserve Program to grow wildlife habitat instead of crops on what is marginal or poor cropland. It's land that shouldn't have been converted to cropland in the first place.

Each year, there's some 37 million acres in the Conservation Reserve Program. But farmers can opt out of the program when their contracts end (usually after 15 years). Yet with the high price of corn, there's a lot of pressure to release those acres for growing crops again right now and not make farmers wait until their contracts expire.

But it's still marginal cropland that will only yield a marginal crop at best. These marginal lands also typically result in more pollution runoff due to unstable soils. This means more water pollution.

Wildlife would suffer, too, especially pheasants, ducks and other game animals that have greatly benefited from the Conservation Reserve Program. The loss of habitat would also damage non-game wildlife populations.

The corn craze for ethanol is also leading to less acres being planted in other traditional food crops like soybeans and wheat.

I might be able to swallow the higher food prices (a combination of the corn craze and higher fuel prices) I'm paying now compared to last year if corn-based ethanol were the energy answer.

It's not.

Its benefits are only marginally better than traditional gasoline. So let's put the lion's share of money for research into bringing another more efficient alternative fuel into production. In the meantime, let's practice energy conservation, so we use less gasoline and other fossil fuels.

I'd rather coat my catfish fillets in cornmeal than pump it into my automobile.