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    Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today approved a biotech corn variety that was engineered solely for producing fuel ethanol. Companies that mill corn for breakfast cereals and other foods have been fighting the move for fear the grain will contaminate their supplies.
    The corn, a product of Syngenta, contains an enzyme that reduces the cost of turning the grain into the biofuel. That same enzyme can make the corn unsuitable for some food products, including cereals and coatings on corn dogs, according to millers. But Syngenta insists that the corn will be kept away from food channels through the use of grower contracts and financial incentives and by growing it only in areas where food companies donít procure their grain supplies.
    Vilsack clears industrial biotech corn | Des Moines Register Staff Blogs



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    A good idea, my not be a big player in corn farmers buy to plant. If Syngenta sells rights for this to Dupont- Pioneer and or Monsanto than it might get some wheels under it. The issue with corn for human consumsion is HUGE. If this gene is expressed in the pollen, I don't think it will make to farmers field???? Once it is in the air it can go MILES and contaminate corn over a wide area. When the 1st GMO corn hit the farmers field, NOBODY, ISU, Monsanto , or Pioneer people would answer the question, HOW FAR DOES POLLEN FLY?
    NEXT facter, this corn would need to be stored by itself so you don't lose the effect of the enzyme. Luquid enzyme are pretty expensive. This is kind of hard to do at most plants. I work at an ethanol plant, this would be really hard to keep seperate, so it would take alot of bushels to make it worth while to mess with.
    Now a corn breeder needs to say if the pollen will contain this gene to see how far this issue will go.



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Quote Originally Posted by R1975P View Post
    A good idea, my not be a big player in corn farmers buy to plant. If Syngenta sells rights for this to Dupont- Pioneer and or Monsanto than it might get some wheels under it. The issue with corn for human consumsion is HUGE. If this gene is expressed in the pollen, I don't think it will make to farmers field???? Once it is in the air it can go MILES and contaminate corn over a wide area. When the 1st GMO corn hit the farmers field, NOBODY, ISU, Monsanto , or Pioneer people would answer the question, HOW FAR DOES POLLEN FLY?
    NEXT facter, this corn would need to be stored by itself so you don't lose the effect of the enzyme. Luquid enzyme are pretty expensive. This is kind of hard to do at most plants. I work at an ethanol plant, this would be really hard to keep seperate, so it would take alot of bushels to make it worth while to mess with.
    Now a corn breeder needs to say if the pollen will contain this gene to see how far this issue will go.
    Depends on how many genes are involved, but a certain percentage of the pollen shed from that plant will have the gene. It could be 5% or 95%, only Syngenta knows and they are not telling.

    Pollen has been traced to over 20 miles, but it takes perfect conditions to get it that far. Gov't. says that 660 feet of isolation ensures purity, which is what everyone uses.

    I'm all for this and for even more GMO's. There will undoubtedly be a mishap or 2 with grain contamination, but it would need to be pretty big contamination to effect human food. A few bushels wont do it since everything gets blended.



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Why can't the government get away from using corn as the ethanol supply source? Many other plants(switchgrass) have shown tremendous advantages to corn, and they don't raise the price of everyone's food in the process. They are not the resource hogs, and can be grown on marginal land(ie the South). The fact we are locked into corn is just silly.



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Quote Originally Posted by brett108 View Post
    Why can't the government get away from using corn as the ethanol supply source? Many other plants(switchgrass) have shown tremendous advantages to corn, and they don't raise the price of everyone's food in the process. They are not the resource hogs, and can be grown on marginal land(ie the South). The fact we are locked into corn is just silly.
    Simple reason. No other plant has as many lobbyists working for those who grow it as corn.


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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Quote Originally Posted by brett108 View Post
    Why can't the government get away from using corn as the ethanol supply source? Many other plants(switchgrass) have shown tremendous advantages to corn, and they don't raise the price of everyone's food in the process. They are not the resource hogs, and can be grown on marginal land(ie the South). The fact we are locked into corn is just silly.

    Lots of good reasons why.

    First, switchgrass would raise the cost of your food if it was used, presuming it is grown on arable land that could otherwise provide food. If we consider that corn can be instantly be diverted into feedlots for livestock needs given market cues, and the ethanol process produces usable by products for animal feed, corn is a much more suitable choice for a fuel crop, because it has a dual use. An acre of corn can be used for hog/poultry/beef production at a moment's notice. An acre of switchgrass cannot. Second, switchgrass is not as energy dense. It is bulky and does not preserve itself when harvested, necessitating it be used immediately, which is difficult with a seasonal crop like that. Third, a related issue, is that you can't store it. At least not much of it anyway, due to its bulk. A cubic foot of corn weighs about 40 pounds. A cubic foot of switchgrass weighs less than a third of that, making the logistics of moving it to a production plant much more expensive.

    If you added up all the uses for corn in your home over the course of a year, most would come up with less than a bushel of it, you can be certain of that. If corn had doubled from $3.50 to $7.00 the total cost of this "inflation" to you personally would be less than $3.50. Don't be fooled!

    Consider instead the cost of bringing those corn products to market. All the fuel costs involved in moving things up and down the interstates. The value of the petroleum in everything you own--do you have significantly more than a bushel of plastic in your home? Whatever inflation is being felt, is being felt due to the cost of fuel rising sharply due to our dependence on purchasing it from foreign countries. Your dollar bills aren't worth what they used to be, thanks to your government, so every barrel that is purchased is taking substantially more bills to pay for it. It isn't necessarily that the value of the oil has climbed a bunch, but the value of that dollar has eroded.



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    All marijuana politics aside, but isn't hemp better than just about anything when being used as a fuel source?



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Switchgrass can't even be properly harvested yet. The stuff is like small trees and it's impossible to be put into a windrow or through a baler. The University of Kentucky is working on it, but it has some serious physical obstacles to overcome.

    More likely we will start to see some cellulosic ethanol from corn cobs. Cobs have the most nutrients out of any other part of the plant (it has to feed the kernals). Iowa State and John Deere are working on modifying combines to collect cobs and grain. They have a system in place to do it, but the problem is that its expensive and the combine weight is ridiculously high. This would also drive up some fertilizer needs since you are losing the cobs as stubble.

    Here is the combine. It has a second engine to run the cob blower into a hopper in the back. This thing is huge and loud. It also can only go about 1 MPH because of all the material running through it.


    Last edited by CyForPresident; 02-11-2011 at 06:36 PM.

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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Quote Originally Posted by Die4Cy View Post
    Lots of good reasons why.

    First, switchgrass would raise the cost of your food if it was used, presuming it is grown on arable land that could otherwise provide food. If we consider that corn can be instantly be diverted into feedlots for livestock needs given market cues, and the ethanol process produces usable by products for animal feed, corn is a much more suitable choice for a fuel crop, because it has a dual use. An acre of corn can be used for hog/poultry/beef production at a moment's notice. An acre of switchgrass cannot. Second, switchgrass is not as energy dense. It is bulky and does not preserve itself when harvested, necessitating it be used immediately, which is difficult with a seasonal crop like that. Third, a related issue, is that you can't store it. At least not much of it anyway, due to its bulk. A cubic foot of corn weighs about 40 pounds. A cubic foot of switchgrass weighs less than a third of that, making the logistics of moving it to a production plant much more expensive.

    If you added up all the uses for corn in your home over the course of a year, most would come up with less than a bushel of it, you can be certain of that. If corn had doubled from $3.50 to $7.00 the total cost of this "inflation" to you personally would be less than $3.50. Don't be fooled!

    Consider instead the cost of bringing those corn products to market. All the fuel costs involved in moving things up and down the interstates. The value of the petroleum in everything you own--do you have significantly more than a bushel of plastic in your home? Whatever inflation is being felt, is being felt due to the cost of fuel rising sharply due to our dependence on purchasing it from foreign countries. Your dollar bills aren't worth what they used to be, thanks to your government, so every barrel that is purchased is taking substantially more bills to pay for it. It isn't necessarily that the value of the oil has climbed a bunch, but the value of that dollar has eroded.


    Really? Less than a bushel over a year? And how many pounds of corn does it take to raise one pound of beef? Or to get one pound of high fructose corn syrup? Add all of those up and you're looking at a lot more than a bushel of corn over a year's time.


    Also, unlike corn, switchgrass doesn't require much in the way of fertilizers. Switchgrass can be grown on a lot of land where corn production is infeasible.

    And no, the value of the dollar really hasn't gone down that much. China and India are simply demanding more oil. When that is coupled with increased demand here and unwillingness by OPEC to drastically increase production, prices go up, it really is that simple.

    The only reason that corn ethanol is even an option is because of the huge subsidies in place and because the infrastructure for transporting large amounts of corn to a central location already existed.

    The best long term option is to find something that is easily harvested and can be grown without using land currently being used for crops.


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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Quote Originally Posted by Die4Cy View Post
    Lots of good reasons why.

    First, switchgrass would raise the cost of your food if it was used, presuming it is grown on arable land that could otherwise provide food. If we consider that corn can be instantly be diverted into feedlots for livestock needs given market cues, and the ethanol process produces usable by products for animal feed, corn is a much more suitable choice for a fuel crop, because it has a dual use. An acre of corn can be used for hog/poultry/beef production at a moment's notice. An acre of switchgrass cannot. Second, switchgrass is not as energy dense. It is bulky and does not preserve itself when harvested, necessitating it be used immediately, which is difficult with a seasonal crop like that. Third, a related issue, is that you can't store it. At least not much of it anyway, due to its bulk. A cubic foot of corn weighs about 40 pounds. A cubic foot of switchgrass weighs less than a third of that, making the logistics of moving it to a production plant much more expensive.

    If you added up all the uses for corn in your home over the course of a year, most would come up with less than a bushel of it, you can be certain of that. If corn had doubled from $3.50 to $7.00 the total cost of this "inflation" to you personally would be less than $3.50. Don't be fooled!

    Consider instead the cost of bringing those corn products to market. All the fuel costs involved in moving things up and down the interstates. The value of the petroleum in everything you own--do you have significantly more than a bushel of plastic in your home? Whatever inflation is being felt, is being felt due to the cost of fuel rising sharply due to our dependence on purchasing it from foreign countries. Your dollar bills aren't worth what they used to be, thanks to your government, so every barrel that is purchased is taking substantially more bills to pay for it. It isn't necessarily that the value of the oil has climbed a bunch, but the value of that dollar has eroded.
    Wow, the amount of bad arguments you present is astounding. Switch grass does not require the nutrient rich ground that corn does. Think of a corn plant. What part is used for ethanol? It is only a small fraction of the plant itself. Almost 80% of a blade of switch grass is used in the process. Like I said, it can be grown on land that is currently only used for grazing skinny cattle.

    Two, do you have any idea on how ethanol is actually produced? I do, and right now it is an energy negative process. What does that mean, you may ask? That means it actually takes more BTUs(unit of energy measurement) to make ethanol than you get by burning it. This means your fossil fuel consumption(which they have to use to make ethanol, hence energy negative)is actually greater with corn-based ethanol. This is like making a product then burning it, which are the kind of jobs our government loves to have. Switch grass is not energy negative.

    Also, have you noticed that food prices have gone up. Economists say it is entirely due to the fact that so much of your corn is being rerouted to ethanol production, which I have pointed out is ludicrous. The switch grass fields will not be in Iowa, which is why Iowa loves corn ethanol. Also, an acre of switch grass can produce far more ethanol than an acre of corn. You wouldn't use all the arable land. Corn is one of the most inefficient crops around.

    You sound like a corn lobbyist, and your lack of knowledge on the production of corn ethanol is staggering.



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Quote Originally Posted by brett108 View Post
    Wow, the amount of bad arguments you present is astounding. Switch grass does not require the nutrient rich ground that corn does. Think of a corn plant. What part is used for ethanol? It is only a small fraction of the plant itself. Almost 80% of a blade of switch grass is used in the process. Like I said, it can be grown on land that is currently only used for grazing skinny cattle.

    Two, do you have any idea on how ethanol is actually produced? I do, and right now it is an energy negative process. What does that mean, you may ask? That means it actually takes more BTUs(unit of energy measurement) to make ethanol than you get by burning it. This means your fossil fuel consumption(which they have to use to make ethanol, hence energy negative)is actually greater with corn-based ethanol. This is like making a product then burning it, which are the kind of jobs our government loves to have. Switch grass is not energy negative.

    Also, have you noticed that food prices have gone up. Economists say it is entirely due to the fact that so much of your corn is being rerouted to ethanol production, which I have pointed out is ludicrous. The switch grass fields will not be in Iowa, which is why Iowa loves corn ethanol. Also, an acre of switch grass can produce far more ethanol than an acre of corn. You wouldn't use all the arable land. Corn is one of the most inefficient crops around.

    You sound like a corn lobbyist, and your lack of knowledge on the production of corn ethanol is staggering.
    I agree switchgrass would be great, but right now its not even possible. You literally can not even harvest the stuff. Maybe in a few years.



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Quote Originally Posted by CyForPresident View Post
    I agree switchgrass would be great, but right now its not even possible. You literally can not even harvest the stuff. Maybe in a few years.
    Agreed, but do you really think processing switch grass will be harder than grinding the cobs? There will be technology to harvest the switch grass, and you are right it needs to be developed, but my point was corn-based ethanol isn't lowering fossil fuel consumption. It is a make work program from the government, because rather than pay farmers not to plant corn, they can now give large tax subsidies to companies that run ethanol plants. There was no reason to ever make corn ethanol for fuel purposes from an economic standpoint. Until we have better biomass, the insanity needs to stop.



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Corn farmers think corn ethanol is great. The urban dwellers surrounded by miles of concrete understand that corn ethanol is all that is wrong with the world. Lots of talking. No listening. Blah blah blah. Move on. How about those Cyclones? Beer is cool. I like funny stuff. What is a wombat anyway?



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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Hemp...with DEA agents surrounding every acre of it to make sure no hippies break in and smoke the...hemp.


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    Re: Vilsack Ok's Industrial Biotech Corn

    Quote Originally Posted by brett108 View Post
    Agreed, but do you really think processing switch grass will be harder than grinding the cobs? There will be technology to harvest the switch grass, and you are right it needs to be developed, but my point was corn-based ethanol isn't lowering fossil fuel consumption. It is a make work program from the government, because rather than pay farmers not to plant corn, they can now give large tax subsidies to companies that run ethanol plants. There was no reason to ever make corn ethanol for fuel purposes from an economic standpoint. Until we have better biomass, the insanity needs to stop.
    This. Just think how much research could be done on replacing corn ethanol if just half the subsidies from corn ethanol were diverted to researching other alternative fuels. The best numbers I could find said that there is more than a dollar per gallon subsidy for corn ethanol. And there is no way corn ethanol fuel survives without that subsidy.

    Often switchgrass is mentioned as a response to corn, but there are other alternatives. Algae for example, produces more than 5000 gallons per acre of biodiesel compared to just over 420 gallons per acre for corn. The only problem is that, like switchgrass, there are issues in harvesting, but the situation is improving all the time.


    I'm also guessing that if any of the alternative to corn were subsidized at the rate at which corn ethanol is subsidized, any issues with producing fuel from that biomass would be quickly resolved.


    And as far as the argument earlier that corn ethanol doesn't really influence food prices, one of the places I looked said that almost 40% of the corn grown in the US is used for ethanol. That makes feed corn prices go up. And when corn prices go up, the cost of feeding livestock goes up. Also when corn prices go up, the amount of land farmed for corn goes up, causing the amount of land used for livestock and other crops to decrease, causing the price of those items to increase.


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