SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A new government report examining whether increased biofuels use could pinch the nation’s water resources says farmers in the Northern Plains use considerably more water to produce a gallon of corn ethanol than growers in other parts of the country.
In Minnesota, the nation’s leader in E85 pumps, sales fell off by more than half this spring compared with the year before, a disappointment to E85 producers and the farmers who supply them with corn to make the fuel. It’s also a letdown for those who hoped the blend would provide a cleaner alternative to gasoline and accelerate the move away from fossil fuels.
The Food and Drug Administration recently found that samples of a feed byproduct from dozens of corn-ethanol plants were contaminated with antibiotics. With that news, producing vehicle fuel from grain is looking not only like a wasteful and inefficient process but also like a danger to human health.
Ethanol already has proven itself as a major player in our country’s effort to become energy independent and as an engine for economic development, especially in rural America. Much more, however, can be expected if action is taken to offer a wider variety of ethanol-blended fuels.
The French government is reviewing its policy in support of first-generation biofuels. The French secretary of state for the environment has asked that agency to review its biofuels production technology. They want to change the focus to second-generation biofuels made from biomass instead of corn and vegetable oil. The secretary also indicated it is likely changes will be made in the French biofuels policy after the review is completed.
The food versus fuel debate continues to raise its head as corn, soybean and vegetable oil prices have continued to soar higher. The American consumer really hasn’t noticed much of an increase in food prices and probably won’t. We spend about 10 percent of our income on food. That is very low relative to nearly every other country and rock bottom compared to poor or lesser developed countries.
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