ST. LOUIS -- Robert Fraley, Monsanto's chief technology officer, spoke yesterday at the "Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance" conference here.

Fraley spoke about the ability of corn to help make the future of biofuels possible and how biotechnology innovations are a critical enabler to biofuel production.

"While there might be several sources of deriving ethanol, corn offers the advantage of providing both feed and fuel from one acre," Fraley said. "By 2030, with the addition of corn stover use, corn has the potential to supply nearly one-third of projected U.S. gasoline demand."

The conference, organized by the USDA and U.S. Department of Energy, brought together key stakeholders from the public sector and private industry to address challenges and explore partnerships in ensuring a domestic, commercially viable renewable energy industry.

At the "Liquid Fuels and Bioproducts: Supply and Demand" breakout session yesterday, Fraley noted that as agriculture's role in renewable energy increases, continued investment in research, continued encouragement of investment in biofuel plants and encouraging E85 infrastructure development are important to helping ensure that the increased biofuel vision becomes reality.

Historically, corn yields have risen due to advances in corn breeding and biotechnology. In the future, traits like drought tolerance and nitrogen- utilization aim to increase yield and expand crop acreage.

"Agricultural biotechnology traits on the market today are protecting yield," Fraley said. "With the growing demand for renewable fuels, we are going to need more corn. Traits that provide drought-tolerance open additional opportunities across the corn belt. Monsanto's first-generation drought tolerance trait is designed to provide yield benefits when water is limiting."

Fraley also mentioned the advantage using corn for ethanol has on local economies.

"By 2030, biofuels production could account for hundreds of thousands of jobs in the local economies where they are produced," Fraley said.

The first ever conference of its kind, Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance was held October 10-12, 2006 to help create and strengthen partnerships and strategies necessary to accelerate commercialization of renewable energy industries and distribution systems. More information about the conference is online.

With headquarters in St. Louis, Monsanto Company is a leading global provider of technology-based solutions and agricultural products that improve farm productivity and food quality.

SOURCE: Monsanto Company via PR Newswire.