Washington's Ethanol Craze May be Over

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WASHINGTON - The debate over the rising costs of food and gas is intensifying and right in the crosshairs is ethanol.

The impact of skyrocketing food prices seems to be unraveling Washington's love affair with corn-for-fuel.

Critics say ethanol is a main ingredient to the global food crisis.

Corn - The Solution or the Problem?

With food riots from Haiti to Peru and the rationing of staples like rice in the Philippines - and even in some place in the U.S. - a growing number of critics say corn is the culprit.

The reason? Record food prices, some argue, are the result of using corn as fuel instead of food.

"It just doesn't make sense to burn our lunch in our gas tanks," said Scott Farber of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

Congress is now considering rolling back new ethanol requirements passed just four months ago.

Last December's energy bill mandated a five-fold increase in ethanol production by the year 2022.

But the debate over food as fuel has intensified as soaring prices have led to a global food crisis.

Peruvians Stage a Protest

This week, 3,000 women marched in Peru to protest against the rise in the costs of living.

"This government is killing us, it is starving us to death," said one Peruvian.

Here in the United States, Americans say they're being impacted too.

"Every time I go to the grocery store I am amazed at just how much money I am spending on basic foods," said one American consumer.

Some experts recommend halting the use of corn as fuel, saying Congress unintentionally raised food prices by making ethanol a high-demand commodity.

Biofuel Advocates: Big Oil is the Culprit

But supporters of biofuel industry say big oil is to blame because of the costs for farmers to fill their tractors and ship their goods.

"We're talking about $120 a barrel oil! And people are worried about a small increase in the price of grain?" Bob Dinneen, CEO of Renewable Fuels Association said.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is asking for a national waiver of the ethanol mandate, arguing the more corn used for fuel, the less it's available as a source of food.

"Which means there's less of that supply for our livestock, for our dairy farmers, and for our kitchen tables. Any federal mandate that benefits one industry to the detriment of millions of consumers, that's a problem. That's bad policy," said Perry's press secretary Allison Castle.

Lawmakers are still debating whether to repeal those ethanol requirements, while others say biofuels that use nonfood materials like grass - could reduce dependence on foreign oil with fewer food and environmental trade-offs.

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