The Underlying Objection
by Susanne Retka Schill (Ethanol Producer Magazine) Is there something deeper going on in all this anti-ethanol rhetoric? Is there some sort of philosophical underlying problem?
…So, is it anti-corn? Is it anti-industrial agriculture? I can understand people being concerned about the success of ethanol paving the way for even more fields of corn. And it has in the short term. But one way to reintroduce of diversity in our agricultural landscape is to promote profitable alternatives. Planting perennial grasses in sensitive areas could go a long way in mitigating many of the concerns from row crops. The only way that will become a viable cropping strategy is if there is a use for the grass that can compete with corn, which could come from those ethanol plants located just a short drive away from nearly every corn field in America.
There’s a lot of interest in adding cellulosic ethanol capacity to first generation plants. Abundant corn stover is the obvious first-choice for feedstock, but energy grasses would be potential feedstocks. That isn’t going to happen if ethanol critics get their way and quash the industry. The development of second generation of biofuels using agricultural and municipal wastes and energy crops will be hindered greatly if the rug gets pulled out from under first-generation biofuels.
…“I think the fundamental, ‘gut’ opposition to biofuels, corn ethanol as the most prominent example, is that many people believe down deep that we cannot have both food and fuel,” (Bruce) Dale said. “It is a moral issue, but not very often voiced that way. I don’t think it is particularly anti-corn or anti-ethanol, although corn and ethanol opponents use it as a convenient stick to beat us with. Western society has been taught for so long that the world is short of food that it is just part of the collective psyche. When I talk to people who object to biofuels, after I overcome their other objections, that is the final, bedrock issue/concern/objection for them.”
In an age of spin, where partial truths simplify and mask complex realities, the average citizen operates on fragments of knowledge that are seldom examined. Overcoming misinformation is one thing. Overcoming moral objections will be bigger challenge. READ MORE