The story of soaring food prices being helped along by competition from ethanol production for fuel supplements hit a nerve today. The Globe article mentioned that to fill an SUV tank with ethanol consumes more corn than a typical African eats in a year. This is a pretty frightening picture alone. But then there is the additional question of how efficient is a typical car tuned to gasoline when fed with higher precentages of ethanol? Here in Ontario the government is talking about mandating adding ethanol to vehical fuels. I have been tracking fuel consumption for my cars since day one — and find that with my current car, a 1999 Cirrus, there is an effect depending upon the type of driving. For highway cruising, rare now, the mileage impact of gasahol blends is minimal. But in urban-type driving the hit can be substantial — more like 15-20% poorer. If my experience is typical, the forced addition of ethanol to road fuels in urban areas will have a double whammy — overall fuel consumption will go up in addition to the loss of foodstocks for everyone. So instead of reducing the dependency on petroleum we are likely to increase it. Another dubious achievement.