A Race to Hunger

Spectators at February’s Daytona 500 road race in Florida were handed green flags to wave in celebration of the news that the stock cars now use gasoline with 15% corn-based ethanol. But the millions of people now threatened by hunger as a result of developed countries' biofuel policies are not cheering.

SYDNEY – Spectators at February’s Daytona 500 in Florida were handed green flags to wave in celebration of the news that the race’s stock cars now use gasoline with 15% corn-based ethanol. It was the start of a season-long television marketing campaign to sell the merits of biofuel to Americans.

On the surface, the self-proclaimed “greening of NASCAR” (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) is merely a transparent (and, one suspects, ill-fated) exercise in an environmental form of whitewashing for the sport – call it “greenwashing.” But the partnership between a beloved American pastime and the biofuel lobby also marks the latest attempt to sway public opinion in favor of a truly irresponsible policy.

The United States spends about $6 billion a year on federal support for ethanol production through tax credits, tariffs, and other programs. Thanks to this financial assistance, one-sixth of the world’s corn supply is burned in American cars. That is enough corn to feed 350 million people for an entire year.

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