The United States is a major provider of the world’s food, and particularly corn, one of the most globally significant foods. Corn feeds people, livestock, and, when it's turned into ethanol, cars. The government requires a certain amount of the nation's annual corn crop be converted to the clean-burning, domestically produced fuel — just over 13 billion gallons this year.
But as the country faces its worst drought in more than 50 years, can we afford to turn that food into fuel? Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam says no. The president of the New England Complex Systems Institute has found a link between rising food prices and crises around the world, including 2011's Arab Spring. Bar-Yam says waiving the ethanol requirement could prevent food riots this year.