Worried about popcorn

15-02-2007 | |
Ziggers
Dick Ziggers Former editor All About Feed

I am worried about popcorn. If I go to the US next year will I still be able to buy a family bucket of this crunchy food for a reasonable price?

I am worried about popcorn. If I go to the US next year will I still be able to buy a family bucket of this crunchy food for a reasonable price?
I mean, look at the Mexicans. Thousands of union members, farmers and left oriented political groups protested against the price increase of corn, the basic ingredient for Mexico’s national food the tortilla.
When Mexico joined the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA in 1994 American farmers started to dump their subsidised corn on the Mexican market. Many small farmers could not survive this market power and the corn fields became the playground of a few large companies.
The current high corn prices, due to the subsidised shift in demand for food and feed corn to corn for ethanol production, forces poor Mexicans to tighten their belts because they cannot afford the more expensive tortillas anymore.

Energy balance

But there are more worries. People in the ethanol business want us to believe that turning corn into ethanol is a profitable business from an energy point of view. Proof is weak and scientists arguing for the opposite are finding it difficult to be heard. Or am I too negative now and influenced by outdated information?
Students at Berkely university examined a few studies on energy pathways in ethanol production and came to the conclusion that it is already clear that large-scale use of ethanol for fuel will almost certainly require cellulosic technology.

Cellulose magic

Cellulose is the magical word for future energy production. There is a slight problem though; plant cell wall material is composed of three important constituents: cellulose, lignin, and hemicellulose. Lignin is particularly difficult to biodegrade, and reduces the bioavailability of the other cell wall constituents.
But science is moving forward and on a laboratory scale BTX Holdings managed to strip starch from wheat straw from a 2.82% content in the basic material to more than 45% after processing, using relatively very low levels of energy.

Hopefully this development continues so that I don’t have to line up with food coupons to get a supersized extra large bucket of popcorn next year.

 




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