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Views from the blog-o-sphere

Views from the bog-o-sphereMore corn for biofuels means fewer grasslands and wetlands

By Benjamin D. Duval – EarthSky – March 24, 2013
Christopher Wright and Michael Wimberly of South Dakota State University published a study in the March 5, 2013 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), showing that grasslands in what is called the western corn belt of the United States are being increasingly converted to farm for corn and soybeans. The likely cause is the demand for biofuels, which has been driving the prices of these crops to an all-time high. Wright and Wimberly focused on the U.S. states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa. By using newly available data on crop cover from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), they demonstrated that the rate of land use change to corn and soy has not been this high since the 1920s and 30s, and is comparable to deforestation rates in Brazil and Indonesia in the 1980s. For full story, click here. To read the study on Recent land use change in the Western Corn Belt threatens grasslands and wetlands, click here.

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