Business Week report: Is ethanol getting a bum rap?

By Susanne Retka Schill | April 08, 2008
Web exclusive posted May 7, 2008 at 3:46 p.m. CST

Ethanol producers following the media war on corn ethanol will want to read the May 1 Business Week article by John Carey, titled "Is Ethanol Getting a Bum Rap?" A month after Time magazine bashed biofuels in a report on deforestation in Brazil, the Business Week article sought out a number of different voices not heard in previous articles relating to the subject. Carey's article states there are good biofuels and bad biofuels, but corn ethanol "isn't quite the villain critics make it out to be."

The article reports perspectives on corn ethanol's contribution to food price increases, the impact of cheap food policies on world grain production, and the effect of ethanol in dampening price increases at the gas pump.

The concerns about land conversion to raise biofuels, for example, is addressed by McKinsey and Co. principal Bill Caeser who estimates that farmers will be able to keep increasing corn-based ethanol production to the mandated 15 billion gallons by 2015 "without reducing the amount going for food and feed, and without increasing acres planted."

Carey doesn't let corn ethanol off the hook, but cites different sources and reasons than the disputed Science magazine article earlier this spring that set off the current storm. Carey's article concludes with a concept being proposed in California, which is described by Daniel Sperling, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis. Sperling suggests biofuels could be judged using a low-carbon fuel standard - and if set as a goal, the market could select which fuels are best.

To read the article, visit: