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Corn-based ethanol is a controversial fuel in its own right, and a long-standing government subsidy for blending the biofuel with gasoline has been an additional source of consternation over the last 30 years. The United States Congress wrapped up its work for 2011 without extending the incentive, a move that's drawn praise from environmental groups and taxpayer advocates.

The fact that the ethanol industry is heavily subsidized does not come as a surprise for our readers. Take the case of Brazil, where the National Bank for Social and Economy Development (Bndes) is funding the biofuel industry with $1,777 billion US this year, which is 58.4 percent more than in 2006.