LETTER: Ethanol production vital to potentially end world hungerThere has been a powerful social taboo against wasting food since time began, and the myth that ethanol production wastes food overshadows all of its virtues and therefore threatens its very existence.
By: Orrie Swayze, Wilmot
To the Editor:
There has been a powerful social taboo against wasting food since time began, and the myth that ethanol production wastes food overshadows all of its virtues and therefore threatens its very existence. The ethanol industry can turn the food for fuel debate on its head by unlocking corn’s tremendous potential to end hunger.
Protein Energy Malnutrition, or PEM, is recognized as the most lethal form of hunger that plagues impoverished populations. All of us have seen pictures of children with bloated stomachs and small arms and legs which is a condition defined as Kwashiorkor, typically most prominent in children after they stop nursing. In adults this same protein deficiency leads to similar problems plus a lack of energy, vulnerability to disease and depression.
On a per-acre basis, corn more than triples protein produced by wheat and approximates soybean protein production. A bushel of corn fed in animal rations typically produces nine pounds of meat containing 25 percent protein. A bushel of corn processed to ethanol more than doubles nine pounds of meat’s protein yield, or nearly 18 pounds of 30 percent protein distiller’s grains that, importantly, can easily be blended into low protein flours found in diets of impoverished populations.
South Dakota State University has developed and tested a process to make distillers grains a bland, tasteless, acceptable protein supplement for the different baking flours used internationally. Commercialization of a portion of distiller’s grains for human consumption will provide a needed demonstration of corn’s tremendous nutritional capabilities that are unlocked when it is first processed to ethanol.
Ethanol’s best opportunity to reach its full potential is to use promotional dollars to commercialize corn’s highest and best use or distillers grains as fungible high protein flours that will prove ethanol production is an important key to end hunger.