The U.S. is the world’s largest producer of corn, by quite a wide margin. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the grain is grown on more than 400,000 farms. Corn produced for grain represents almost 25 percent of the crop acres harvested in the nation. In the year 2000, the U.S. contributed nearly ten of the 23 billion bushels of corn produced worldwide.
Most of the corn grown in the U.S. is raised in the appropriately named Corn Belt. This includes the states of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and South Dakota. The National Corn Growers Association reports that nearly 80 percent of the corn grown within the U.S. is consumed by overseas and domestic poultry, fish, and livestock production. Corn is also consumed by humans and has various industrial uses.
China is the second largest corn producer worldwide. The country has been growing corn since the 1550s. The grain is also grown in Africa, France, Romania, and Mexico, as well as Argentina, Brazil, and most other countries in South America. Hungary, Spain, Greece, Yugoslavia, Italy, Israel, and Australia also produce corn. Japan is the largest corn importer in the world.
There are various different types of corn and some have been around longer than others. Popcorn is made from corn that dries on the stalk, while the corn we eat on the cob is referred to as sweet corn. The maize plant was reportedly domesticated by southwestern Mexican farmers as long as 8,700 years ago.
Corn is a staple in the diets of livestock and humans and is included in products like detergent, sandpaper, antibiotics, chewing gum, plastics, rubber tires, cosmetics and road de-icers. One innovative use for a corn by-product called corn starch sugar is currently being tested by the U.S. Department of Defense. This substance is believed to quickly remove toxic substances from groundwater.
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