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Corn+Soybean Digest

Pro or Con, Let’s Have a Real Discussion About Biofuels

Yet another so-called “study” about the impact of corn-based ethanol on the nation’s food supply has been issued. Like the others, its authors choose facts that support their opinion, and disregard everything else.

Once again we’re told ethanol has little impact on the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and is driving up food prices.

“Impact,” we guess, is a relative term. Ethanol is replacing 200 million barrels of imported oil per year. With the price of oil above $80/barrel, ethanol’s impact on oil imports alone is more than $16 billion dollars.

Ethanol critics are fond of raising the alarm that using ethanol will require x amount of land to produce x amount of corn – staggering numbers that suggest our environment will collapse under the strain. The truth is no serious supporter of ethanol has ever suggested that all our energy needs could be supplied by corn-based ethanol. The NCGA believes – and has all along – that a rational pathway of ethanol growth exists. One in which corn growers can supply about 5 billion bushels of corn per year from a 15-billion-bushel crop for ethanol by 2015. According to the Renewable Fuels Association, that would be enough to blend 10% ethanol into every gallon of gasoline sold in the United States. Additional ethanol will come from increased production efficiency and other stocks, such as cellulose, as those technologies come on line.

We’d also note that with this year’s corn harvest estimated at about 13.3 billion bushels, even if 5 billion bushels went exclusively to ethanol production, it would still leave more than enough for all domestic uses of corn.

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