Ethanol vs. food

Deputy U.S. Energy Secretary Clay Sell acknowleged today that rising corn prices as a result of increased ethanol production is a “significant issue.”
That’s why the U.S. must reduce corn exports to expand domestic supplies and continue doing research on non corn-based ethanol.
“That will help us move beyond the politics of corn as it relates to ethanol,” Sell said during at panel discussion at OTC.
The United States recently surpassed Brazil as the world’s largest ethanol producer. And in January, President Bush called for a 20 percent reduction in U.S. gasoline consumption by 2017, mostly through blending more ethanol into gas.
But a sharp increase in ethanol production has sent corn prices through the roof and raised concerns that making the fuel on a wide scale will cut into the food supply.
Sell said the Energy Department continues to fund research on so-called cellulosic ethanol, which is made from non-food crops like switchgrass, but is still too expensive to produce commercially.
He predicted that within five years cellulosic ethanol will be price competitive with corn-based ethanol.