Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner delivered the keynote address at last week's World Food Prize Symposium in Des Moines. He said that cellulosic ethanol must be a part of the equation to meet alternative fuels production goals.
"To reach the more ambitious renewable fuels standard that is being talked about, whether it be the President's proposal of 35 billion gallons or as the Senate has suggested, a 36 billion standard, we will have to diversify our fuel feed stocks beyond corn and soybeans and get into other materials for cellulosic ethanol production," Conner said.
The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology released a report last week during the World Food Symposium that also stressed the need for future systems to depend more on plant biomass.
"Current cropping systems generally are designed to optimize grain production and are not designed to harvest all the aboveground portion of the plant for cellulose-containing biomass," says Steve Fales, associate director of Iowa State University's Biorenewables Program. "Significant, immediate national investments are needed, along with changes in policy, to address challenges limiting the sustainable production and efficient use of cellulosic biomass as a fuel feedstock to meet anticipated U.S. demand."
The full report, Convergence of Agriculture and Energy: II. Producing Cellulosic Biomass for Biofuels, can be found online at the CAST Web site: www.cast-science.org.