John Oliver Explains Why Ethanol Fuel Is a Lie

John Oliver Explains Why Ethanol Fuel Is a Lie

Screenshot: Last Week Tonight

Corn is a problem. Or rather, America’s growing reliance on government corn subsidies to power our everyday lives. Beef is artificially inexpensive because farmers feed corn to cows, even though their digestive systems aren’t designed to process it. Sweet foods are artificially inexpensive because high fructose corn syrup is replacing cane sugar in almost everything we eat, despite it being horrifyingly bad for you. And when it comes to cars, corn ethanol is used to artificially drive down the cost of gasoline, despite it being less efficient, more harmful to the environment, and potentially detrimental to your car’s fueling systems.

Corn: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Conservative politicians love to spout bullshit about the American working class exploiting welfare systems because they’re lazy, but will turn around and pander to the monoculture factory farms practicing needlessly harmful tactics to plant corn we can’t use and nobody wants to buy. These giant farms are gaming the system to reap massive financial benefit in ways that have largely killed off the American small family farm as a viable business.

To help farmers during the great depression and dust bowl era, FDR’s New Deal incentivized farmers not to plant crops as a way to drive up flat-lining prices through scarcity. The country later switched to an alternate method that set a government-guaranteed price floor for farmers. Those farms responded by dramatically increasing supply well beyond demand, driving prices through the floor and forcing the government to shell out billions in payments to corn farmers to make up the difference. All of a sudden, if you were producing a regular amount of corn, your farm was insolvent, and only the giant factory farms with economies of scale were making money. I watched this happen with my grandparents’ family milk farm, it’s truly despicable.

Companies are inventing new ways to use more corn because the federal government subsidizes it so much that it can make ethanol cheaper than gasoline or high fructose corn syrup cheaper than sugar. The products made with corn are worse for the environment, worse for our health, and much worse for running in your car, but they’re artificially cheap. We may be paying less for ethanol at the pump, but we’re paying extra for it on the back end with our taxes and the loss of environmental balance.

Corn may be cheap, but it’s costing us everything.

This article originally appeared on Jalopnik.

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