WHEN CORN prices soared in the summer of 2008, a lot of people blamed ethanol. They also said it was taking away food from people in developing countries. But a Texas A & M study on food, fuel and feed reported that the chief culprit was $100-plus-per-barrel oil, as diesel and gasoline prices climbed to record highs. This resulted in increased transportation costs. High petroleum prices also added to the cost of food processing, marketing and retailing.

As far as food for developing countries is concerned, it's helpful to consider the basics of a kernel of corn. Only a corn kernel's protein and fat are used to produce feed products. The ethanol production process removes only the starch from corn. A large portion of corn's digestible energy is preserved in distillers grain, which is used in livestock and poultry feed. — Lynn Grooms