The law of unintended consequences has struck again and once again corn ethanol is at the center of it. The net benefits of producing fuel ethanol from corn are constantly debated here and elsewhere. Now there is yet another potentially huge cost to America's desire to use maize as a fuel. Dr. William Laurance of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute has released a new study blaming U.S. corn subsidies for a recent surge in the burning of Amazon rain forests. In the past two years, U.S. corn production has spiked by 19 percent, mostly at the expense of soy production. That has led to a commensurate increase in soy prices, as Brazilian soy farmers have sought to increase their production. That extra production requires land which is currently rain forests. Unfortunately soy fields consume a lot less CO2 than rain forests and don't provide the habitat required by the animals that live there.
[Source: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute]