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RE: [greenyes] Plastic from corn?

Ah, yes, "The Nature of Things to Come", as Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) puts it. Though it is a little old now, and a hefty paperback, there is a very interesting book to read, The Informant, related to the investigation of the price-fixing of lysine by ADM. Provides a very interesting history of corn production in the U.S., and good background about the transition of and the promotion of corn for many products way beyond food for people or animals.

Rebecca Brown
Phone: 916-341-6680
Fax: 916-319-7527
CIWMB - Office of Local Assistance
PO Box 4025 (1001 I St.)
Sacramento, CA 95812-4025

-----Original Message-----
From: D Hughes [mailto:djhughes@no.address]
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2004 7:26 PM
To: Jenny Gitlitz; greenyes
Cc: Maine, Bruce
Subject: Re: [greenyes] Plastic from corn?

There are two major advantages that corn- or soy-based plastics have over their petroleum-derived counterparts. First, they are renewable. Second, they are biodegradable. The consequences of these two advantages, taken together, are immense: growing corn does not contribute to global warming, to anywhere near the extent that petroleum does; nor does it create a waste product which, unless incinerated, lasts virtually forever. Plastic litter is the most commonly seen pollutant in the world's oceans, and has led to the death of untold numbers of marine wildlife. That in itself should be reason to make the switch.
Don Hughes

ps. Cutting back on pork and beef consumption would not be a bad idea, both in terms of better health and reducing human impacts on the environment.

t 08:48 AM 11/29/2004, Jenny Gitlitz wrote:
>On 11/29/04 8:12 AM, Maine, Bruce at Bruce.Maine@no.address wrote:
> > Sacrificing food resources for consumer goods doesn't seem
> > to make a lot of sense
> >From what I understand, "sacrificing" food resources is not an issue. There
>is a surplus of corn grown in the U.S.--subsidization accounting for the
>glut. Also--the vast majority of corn grown in the U.S. is used as cattle
>feed, not as a direct food source for humans. If we were all to become
>vegetarians or vegans, we could probably cut the land (and water & energy)
>used to grow our agricultural products by 80-90% (not to mention ag wastes).
> >From what I understand, the energy inputs used to grow and process
>corn-based plastics may exceed the energy value of comparable plastic resin
>from petroleum. I have not seen a complete life-cycle analysis on this, so I
>can't vouch for this. I am curious to learn if this can be done with net
>energy savings over traditional plastics manufacture.
>Other factors must be kept in mind, too: pesticide use, for one. American
>corn manufacture is a monocrop process that is pesticide-, fertilizer-, and
>water-intensive, and reduces the potential (=historical) biodiversity of the
>plains. Trading one monocrop output (beef) for another (corn plastics)
>doesn't seem like a big win for our society. If the corn could be grown
>organically, intercropped with other grains, and bred to be
>drought-tolerant, the overall picture might be different.
>Jennifer Gitlitz
>Research Director, Container Recycling Institute
>Home Office:
>2 Pomeroy Ave.
>Dalton, MA 01226
>Tel. (413) 684-4746
>Mobile: (413) 822-0115
>Fax: (413) 403-0233
>Email: jgitlitz@no.address
>Please note the new address for CRI¹s main office:
>Container Recycling Institute
>1601 North Kent St., Suite 803
>Arlington, VA 22209-2105
>Tel. (703) 276-9800
>Fax: (703) 276-9587
>To unsubscribe, e-mail: greenyes-unsubscribe@no.address
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Don Hughes, PhD student *
Dept of Chemistry, 431 Jahn Laboratory *
SUNY-College of Environmental Science & Forestry
Syracuse, NY 13210 *
315-470-6597 djhughes@no.address *
"When I was younger I could remember anything,
whether it happened or not."
Mark Twain (1835-1910); US writer and journalist.

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