Cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in world grain consumption this year. The U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that world grain use will grow by 20 million tons in 2006. Of this, 14 million tons will be used to produce fuel for cars in the United States, leaving only 6 million tons to satisfy the world's growing food needs.

There are alternatives to using food-based fuels. For example, the equivalent of the 3 percent gain in automotive fuel supplies from ethanol could be achieved several times over -- and at a fraction of the cost -- simply by raising auto fuel efficiency standards by 20 percent.