With this issue of MichiganScience, we launch a new feature that will highlight data relevant to current events. Readers are welcome to send suggestions for future topics to MichiganScience@mackinac.org.

Chart - click to enlarge

Nearly 7 billion gallons of ethanol are now produced annually in the United States, an increase of some 250 percent in the past five years. The data above illustrate how policy choices can produce unintended consequences.

The vast majority of ethanol produced in the United States comes from corn, which has prompted a significant shift away from soybean production to corn.

The prices for soybeans increase as the supply declines. The higher prices prompt farmers in Brazil to plant more soybeans. Consequently, the rate of deforestation in Brazil has worsened.