Cargill CEO Questions Whether Ethanol Should Be Priority

Minneapolis, Minnesota [MarketWatch] At a time when the U.S. government is promoting ethanol and several companies are investing heavily in the product, the head of one of the world’s largest agribusiness companies is skeptical that certain biofuels are the answer to the country’s reliance on foreign oil. Warren Staley, chief executive of Cargill Inc., says that ethanol and biodiesel will be good, profitable businesses, but that the Minnesota company’s first priority is to be the leading global food provider. Promotion of ethanol, he said Monday, runs contrary to that goal at a time when the need for increased food production is critical. … The bottom line for Staley, however, is that using scarce land to increase ethanol production is out of step with the need for increased global food production in the coming years, especially given the limited impact that ethanol could ultimately have in driving down dependence on foreign oil. According to Staley, even if 100% of the U.S. corn crop were used to produce ethanol, it would only replace about 20% of motor fuel. In the U.S., ethanol is made primarily from corn, while other countries use sugarcane as the main input.
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