Japanese Reporters Travel to the U.S. to Learn About Biotech, Biofuels

This week, key members of the Japanese media traveled across the United States to learn about corn production, ethanol and how biotechnology and other production innovations are helping U.S. farmers feed and fuel the world sustainably.

“Japan is typically the largest market for U.S. corn, and we see potential for a strong ethanol market as well,” said Tommy Hamamoto, USGC Japan director. “It is important to maintain a consistent dialogue with the people of Japan to assure them that U.S. farmers will be able to provide for their food and fuel needs sustainably. The advances we are making in biotechnology and other production technologies should give the Japanese people the confidence that the U.S. will continue to be a reliable supplier far into the future.”

The tour started in St. Louis, where the team visited Monsanto to learn about the company’s effort to improve the productivity and sustainability of crop production, including their efforts to promote carbon-neutral corn and soybean production.

From there, the reporters traveled through Illinois visiting with farmers and the Illinois Corn Marketing Board to better understand how farmers are adopting technologies and agronomic practices to increase their production while using their inputs more efficiently. Following those visits, the team met with the Illinois Renewable Fuels Association to gain insight into how biofuels are helping clean the air and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from U.S. automobiles.

The team also traveled to a CHS ethanol plant in Illinois to see firsthand how ethanol is produced and distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) are extracted and finished into a high quality feed ingredient.

The Illinois portion of the tour concluded with a visit to the University of Illinois at Chicago to meet with Dr. Steffen Mueller from the Energy Resources Center at UIC and Dr. Gerard Ostheimer from the United Nations Sustainable Energy For All Initiative. Those discussions focused on the performance of U.S. corn ethanol with respect to GHG emissions based upon a life-cycle analysis and the need to increase the use of renewables through the sustainable production and use of bioenergy.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about U.S. corn ethanol and the GHG emission savings when blended with gasoline,” said Mueller, who recently concluded a life-cycle analysis of corn ethanol. “If you factor in the advances we have seen with both corn production and ethanol production, U.S. ethanol provides far greater GHG savings than most people realize.”

The reporters' tour concludes on Friday with a visit to North Carolina State University to meet with NCSU faculty, including Dr. Fred Gould, who chaired the committee that developed the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s study, Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects.

For more information on the Council’s work with ethanol and biofuels, click here