A recent conference hosted by Brazil brought more than 70 countries together to advance biofuel production around the globe and discuss the beneficial impacts. The U.S. delegation was lead by Ag Secretary Ed Schafer, who highlighted the fact that Brazil and the U.S. are leading the way each in their own niche; the U.S. with corn-based ethanol and Brazil with biofuels made from sugar. However Schafer says diversifying the feedstocks is recognized as critical as the world moves toward second-generation biofuels.
"As we look beyond sugar and corn into the cellulosic efforts it is important for us to remember that this technology is going to allow energy independence for developing countries, for small countries that don't have energy that import it and that are dependent on others," Schafer says. "What comes from energy independence, which is also better for the environment, it creates economic activity in rural areas. So farmers and landowners can take advantage of this new technology, create energy independence through biofuels and increase the opportunities to make money on their own farms. It increases investment, increases economic activity; this is good all the way around for the world and Brazil and the United States are going to lead the way."
Schafer says he believes that the sharing of technologies and ideas among nations is vital in the feedstocks diversification process.
"You have different resources in different countries. You have different resources in different regions. It might be wood chips here, it might be cover grass here, it might be a short-season growth product here," Schafer says. "So I think what's important is for the 70 plus countries is to say here's what we have available for resources for us, how can that technology be tailored to work locally."