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Corn+Soybean Digest

Scientists Unite In Support of Biodiesel

An ongoing effort asking scientists from around the world to pledge their support for biodiesel is getting quick results. Roger Beachy, president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, and Rob Myers, founder of the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute in Columbia, MO, serve as co-chairs of the campaign, which invites all members of the scientific community to visit and add their names to the list of biodiesel supporters.

“The soybean checkoff has a long-term investment in researching sustainable, renewable biodiesel,” says Vanessa Kummer, United Soybean Board (USB) communications chair and a soybean farmer from Colfax, ND. “So it’s good to see the scientific community coming out in support of biodiesel. It’s important to increase awareness of the science behind using soy biodiesel as an answer to decreasing our dependence on petroleum while still providing food, feed and fiber for the world.”

Scientists who sign the petition are agreeing that biodiesel can reduce dependence on petroleum, help address climate change and boost domestic economies. Additionally, by signing the declaration, the scientists pledge their support for further investment and research, which will enhance biodiesel’s status as a sustainable fuel for transportation and other uses, as well as its ability to meet the world’s food, feed, fiber and energy needs of the future.

More than 80 scientists have signed up since Myers and Beachy announced the declaration at the National Biodiesel Board conference and expo earlier this year.

As a consistent source of funding for the research and promotion of biodiesel, checkoff has been a major force in increasing biodiesel production from 500,000 gallons in 1999 to nearly 700 million gallons in 2008. Checkoff-funded research, for example, has found that soybean oil is the superior biodiesel feedstock due to the improved lubricity, cold-flow properties and other diesel-engine benefits provided by soy biodiesel.

According to Myers, biodiesel is an obvious choice as a fuel of the future.

“Biodiesel is such a good fit with our goals for domestically produced, renewable energy sources,” says Myers, who grew up on a corn and soybean farm in Illinois. “Soybean, as the predominant crop currently used for biodiesel, is an environmentally friendly crop from the standpoint that it produces its own nitrogen and doesn’t need nitrogen fertilizer.”

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