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Corn still the leading ethanol feedstock, Monsanto officer says

Agriculture.com Staff 10/12/2006 @ 2:54pm

Robert Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer, addressed the ability of corn to help make the future of biofuels possible and how biotechnology innovations are a critical enabler to biofuel production this week at the Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

"While there might be several sources of deriving ethanol, corn offers the advantage of providing both feed and fuel from one acre," Fraley said. "By 2030, with the addition of corn stover use, corn has the potential to supply nearly one-third of projected U.S. gasoline demand."

The conference, organized by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Energy, brought together key stakeholders from the public sector and private industry to address challenges and explore partnerships in ensuring a domestic, commercially viable renewable energy industry.

At a session yesterday, Fraley noted as agriculture's role in renewable energy increases, continued investment in research, encouragement of investment in biofuel plants and E85 infrastructure development are important to helping ensure that the increased biofuel vision becomes reality.

Historically, corn yields have risen due to advances in corn breeding and biotechnology. In the future, traits like drought tolerance and nitrogen utilization are aimed at increasing yield and expand crop acreage.

"Agricultural biotechnology traits on the market today are protecting yield," Fraley said. "With the growing demand for renewable fuels, we are going to need more corn. Traits that provide drought-tolerance open additional opportunities across the corn belt."

Fraley also mentioned the advantage using corn for ethanol has on local economies.

"By 2030, biofuels production could account for hundreds of thousands of jobs in the local economies where they are produced," Fraley said.

Robert Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer, addressed the ability of corn to help make the future of biofuels possible and how biotechnology innovations are a critical enabler to biofuel production this week at the Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

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