To the Editor:
Living in the heart of farming country, I was disheartened to read your front page story from the Associated Press: "Ethanol comes with harsh costs." This article is full of misinformation and mistruths about the ethanol industry.
One claim made in the article is that farmers have converted more than 5 million acres from conservation land to corn fields. I am a farmer and I can assure you that any land deemed a "wetland" is highly regulated. It is nearly impossible to convert wetlands to corn fields. It just doesn't happen. Minnesota is proud to acknowledge that farmers lead the way with more than 2 million acres in conversation stewardship program.
Another claim in the article is nitrogen use has increased between 2005 and 2010. USDA 2010 data shows nitrogen use down from the mid 1980s. Today's corn plants use 43 percent less nitrogen than those planted in 1980. Corn plants use less nitrogen today as a result of biotechnology. That trend is expected to continue in the future.
The AP also claims that in 2010 corn used for fuel moved to the top spot of how corn is used in the United States. That is just incorrect. Livestock feed still remains the No. 1 use of corn. And what the article fails to mention is that for every 56 pounds of corn used for ethanol, 17 pounds is returned back into a high-protein livestock feed.
These are just a few examples of misinformation in the article. There are many more. What is the lesson here? Perhaps the most important is we ALL need to use our critical thinking skills and do some fact-checking. Agricultural misinformation is rampant. In this particular subject, I would refer you to Minnesota Corn Growers website. They are refuting this article using USDA and other reputable sources, unlike the AP, which apparently succumbed to the powerful influences of the oil industry.
Farmers are stewards of the land. And biotechnology helps us be better stewards by allowing us to do more with less. We should be celebrating those innovations.