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Food vs Fuel Debate–Matt Wu Podcast

Yeji Park

Anchor Intro (Food versus Fuel Debate)



About 10 years ago, awareness for global warming began and stirred call for clean, renewable energy.

The United States found ethanol made from corn to be a viable option and launched the Clean Energy Act of 2005. The law pushed for increased alternative fuel production to combat global warming.

By 2022, the United States wants to produce 36 billion gallons of ethanol. Compared to 2008, this is a 4-fold increase.

But the initiative also sparked the food versus fuel debate where some believed that corn should be used to fight hunger and others to save the environment.

Matt Wu reports on the ongoing debate for the future of ethanol for Emory, News, Now.





Yeji Park—Anchor Intro (0:00-0:38)

TRT (3:28)

Yeerin Kwon

Emory University Student (1:06)

Eri Saikawa

Emory University Professor (1:37)

Eri Saikawa

Emory University Professor (2:04)

Eri Saikawa

Emory University Professor (2:33)

Lance Gunderson

Emory University Professor (2:53)

MW (:28)


Used as a fuel, corn-based ethanol has great potential to be green by lowering certain greenhouse gases.

Last year by incorporating ethanol into gasoline, carbon dioxide emissions from transportation were reduced by 39.6 million metric tons. Imagine removing 8.4 million cars from the road for an entire year.

Some argue that ethanol production is worthwhile because it promotes the planet’s well-being. Emory University student, Yeerin (YEH-rin) Kwon (KWAHN), shares why we should be environmentally conscious.

SOT (:13)

Yeerin Kwon

Emory University student

It’s important to be green because it affects both our physical and psychological well-being. Also, the environment affects our everyday lives and our future.


MW (:17)


However, the corn grown for ethanol, requires heavy fertilizer use. These fertilizers emit other greenhouse gases, but since these emissions come from the soil, they are unregulated.

Eri (EAR-ee) Saikawa (PSY-kah-wah), an environmental health expert at Emory


University, says growing corn for ethanol can produce more greenhouse gases than use of the fuel saves.


SOT (:14)

Eri Saikawa

Emory University Professor

Now we don’t have any standard of how much fertilizer can be put and what kind. Depending on what type of fertilizer you put, you get different types of emissions. You can definitely get more greenhouse emissions.


MW (:11)


While corn can be made into a fuel, it still has great value as a food source.

Around the world, it is considered a staple of many populations.

However, Saikawa (PSY-kah-wah), explains that limited resources make growing enough corn for both food and ethanol difficult.

SOT (:14)

Eri Saikawa

Emory University Professor

I don’t think it’d be possible to use the land for energy and serving of for people in terms of food. It would be less food for people in the countries.


MW (:13)


In 2013, 5 billion bushels of corn were used to produce ethanol in the U.S. This would be enough to feed 500 million people for an entire year.

If biofuel production continues, ultimately corn producers will be the most impacted, says Saikawa.

SOT (:09)

Eri Saikawa

Emory University Professor

The money that goes for exports don’t necessarily go for farmers. If we were to do that, the poor will still go poor and more hungry.


MW (:11)


SOT (:23)

Lance Gunderson

Emory University Professor

There’s a link between energy and money. The economic systems are not neutral. There are preferences in terms of guiding the trajectory of development. For example, the agricultural price support system drives corn-based ethanol and supports a corn-based ethanol solution.

MW (:11)


At the moment, the food versus fuel debate remains unresolved.

The environment and hunger problems both carry weight of their own, but for now, ethanol will continue to be made.

Matt Wu, Emory News Now.







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