Maize, otherwise known as corn, is important to the economy due to its wide range of uses. Maize is primarily used as feed for livestock, suggesting the dependence of the livestock industry on corn production. It is also used to create a variety of food and nonfood products, such as corn meal, sweeteners, corn oil, starch and ethanol, which is used as a cleaner-burning alternative to gasoline.
Maize is the most abundant crop grown in the United States. America produces 32 percent of the world's maize crop, making it the global leader in maize production. China is the second largest producer of maize. The global demand for maize imports continues to increase. There is considerable competition from other coarse grain such as wheat, which can substitute as feed for livestock, depending on available supply.
The success and subsequent abundance of maize in the top-producing countries can be attributed to the genetic modification of the plant. It's estimated 86 percent of US maize production is genetically modified. Genetically modified maize is more resistant to the major contributors of crop destruction, such as pests and diseases. This in turn requires less need for pesticide application and results in more efficient crop production.