Corn itself might not be bad for the environment. Corn was one of the staple food items of the Native Americans east of the Mississippi River, in addition to squash and beans, and has grown in the US for literally hundreds of year. Industrial corn, however, and the mono-cropping of corn, has made the crop a headliner for un-sustainability. The lack of crop diversity has threatened soil health, and industrial farming practices require a tremendous amount of fossil fuels, water, and pesticide use. This is not necessarily because of corn, but because of the way corn has been planted.
Corn production currently involves more chemical pesticides than growing soybeans or winter wheat, so those two crops are better for the environment in that sense.
Scientists are working on developing perrenial (as opposed to annual) strains of some popular grains. These would have a lower environmental impact because they would not require the intensive tilling of the soil each year to re-plant, nor as much pesticide use. They would also cut down erosion with their stable established root systems. Successful perrenial grains are definitely still a few years away, but keep an eye out for them in the future!
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