One resource that corn uses in abundance to fix carbon-13 and create carbohydrates and some proteins is nitrogen, which was found in the soil abundantly only 100 years ago. Since corn taxes the nitrate levels of soil, traditional multi-purpose farming would rotate in crops capable of fixing nitrogen from the atmosphere. Carbon is abundant and easy to fix from gas, nitrogen is not as easy to fix and is more scare than carbon in the atmosphere. One such crop that would rotate in after corn is a legume such as soybeans or peanuts, which lives in symbiosis with bacteria which fix nitrogen in exchange for glucose on the plant's roots. And for centuries, corn and legumes would rotate, one consuming the soil's supply of nitrogen and the other replenishing, year after year. This changed in last century when in 1909 a German Jew named Fritz Haber figured out an industrial process for fixing nitrogen to create ammonium nitrate, the industrial fertilizer used today to feed millions of acres of hungry corn stalks (as well as blow up federal buildings). He used his know-how in World War I to create a vast array of nitrate for explosive manufacture, as well as developing poison gases. He developed Zyklon B, which was ironically used to gas Jews during the Holocaust.
The downside of industrial nitrate fixing is that it requires a great deal of energy to do, energy that comes from burning coal or oil. A conservative estimate is that for each calorie of corn created, three calories of fossil fuels is burned -- but the true cost may be as much as 6-10 to one calorie where a farmer over-fertilizes, in transportation and processing cost, etc, or even more. All for something which growths naturally with neutral or even negative carbon impact on the environment. Consider the disparity of pounds of feed to pounds of meat in raising beef, and you begin to see the negative impact of industrial corn and meat cultivation in the United states: it takes roughly 32 pounds of corn to produce 4 pounds of weight gain in cattle (an 8:1 ratio), as opposed to a 2:1 ratio in chicken. Work backwards from a single calorie of grain-fed beef and you're burning maybe 100 calories of fossil fuels.
reposted from und1sk0
I know some pretty smart people. Solve this problem: Your entire food manufacturing industry is structured on an energy loss. Solve for x, where x = the magic solution to end world hunger, obesity, the oil crisis and save the environment. Tomorrow: we end the national deficit and make a timecube!