Maize, commonly referred to as corn in the United States, has been considered a unique plant since the time that the indigenous peoples of the Americas developed it to be their staple food. It is central to many sacred mythologies and creation stories which are still honored today. Maize was introduced from the New World to the Old World in the 1400’s, and it was planted between the harvesting of spring and winter crops, filling an important niche as a summer crop. Today, the United States, China, the European Union, Brazil and Mexico are the world’s largest producers of maize.
Together, the US and China produce approximately 60% of the world maize crop. Maize accounts for 15-20% of the total daily calories in the diets of more than 20 developing countries, located mainly in Latin America and Africa. 68% of the land devoted to maize is located in the developing world, however only 46% of maize production occurs there, indicating the need for improving yields in developing countries where it is a major source of direct human consumption for many of the poor.
Given its many uses, maize is likely to be found in over 1,000 products in a well-stocked U.S. supermarket. The specifics of maize production, reproduction, cultivation, processing, and consumption—its resiliency, mutability, as well as the intractability of cultural and botanical constraints—continue to provide science with insights into the past and possible future of the species. Not surprisingly, maize is the most studied plant species on the planet.
is the most important feed grain in the world because of its efficient conversion of dry substance to meat, milk and eggs, compared to other grains. In fact, the world devotes ≈۶۰% of its maize crop to animal feed.
Besides using for food, animal feed and related products, it is also used in production of oil, fuel alcohol commonly called ethanol, and biodegradable polyester. Ethanol increases the burning capacity of gasoline and is pollution-free.