Issues Relating to Ethanol Production
The media increasingly is beginning to focus on the “Food vs. Fuel” debate and the impact of the rising price of most feedstocks on the cost and availability of food. The increased demand for wheat and the decreased duration of wheat storage has led to the lowest global wheat supply since 1983 (ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/010/ah881e/ah881e00.pdf).

Getting food onto the grocery shelf is a very complex, labour and energy intensive process that by far is the largest contributing factor to the cost of food. One bushel of wheat can produce 60 loaves of bread and 300 bottles of beer. The value that the farmer receives for the wheat that goes into one loaf of bread is approximately 5¢. So, even if the price of wheat increases from $3/bushel to $6/bushel the total cost for the wheat component of the loaf of bread would be 10¢.

There are other aspects of our food supply and bio-fuel production that have not become part of the general discussion within the media, but are worthy of noting. Most countries around the world are developing bio-ethanol and bio-diesel production from wheat, corn, sugar cane or other feedstocks appropriate for their geography. Development of these industries means that there is an increased alternative source and storage sites for grains within each country. Although these grains would be going into bio-fuel production, they could be made available for the production of food – if there was ever a threat or sudden loss of grains for food production. (ie. The supply of grains is more elastic with their use in bio-fuel production.)