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China May Ban Food-Crop Feedstocks for Ethanol Production

People’s Daily. China may ban the use of food crop feedstocks for ethanol production, switching entirely to non-food materials, according to an official of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) at a seminar in Beijing.

“Food-based ethanol fuel will not be the direction for China,” said Xu Dingming, vice director of the Office of the National Energy Leading Group, who was also at the seminar.

The current four enterprises engaged in producing corn-based ethanol would be asked to switch to non-food materials gradually, according to the NDRC official who declined to be named.

The four—in Jilin, Heilongjiang, Henan and Anhui—have a combined production capacity of 1.02 million tons (340 million gallons US) of corn-based ethanol per year.

China Oil and Food Corporation (COFCO), the country’s largest oil and food importer and exporter, will focus on sorghum in the production of non-food-based ethanol fuel, according to Yu Xubo, president of COFCO. COFCO, which owns the Heilongjiang enterprise and has a 20% stake in the Anhui enterprise, plans to produce 5 million tons (1.7 billion gallons US) of sorghum ethanol in the near future.

COFCO is also partnering with Novozymes on the production of cellulosic ethanol.

“We are optimistic about China’s prospect of making [cellulosic ethanol] work ahead of the US, as the cost of collecting the stalks of corn are much cheaper in China,” said Steen Riisgaard, president and CEO of Novozymes.



An interesting day in terms of Chineese developments ... first the announcement about a possible move away from CTL and now this, an attempt to reduce the amount of food going to ethanol.

I'd love to know all of the politics and thinking that are behind these two announcements.


I think most of it can be explained by the lack of an agribusiness lobby in China.


There is quite a difference between crops that you eat and crops you turn into fuel.

With fuel crops, you have a blank slate, and so there is no need at all to start with food crops, except as a reference.

I think E-P summed it up nicely - no Agribusiness lobby - they can start again from scratch.


The agribusiness presence in the PRC is minimal on the national level. However, there are the 3 800lb gorillas in the room, disgruntled peasants, energy (supply and security), and environmental degradation.

Harvey D.


Will a well directed economy move ahead of our lobby controlled democracies in many areas?


China has a huge trade surplus with everyone.
Plus it holds $600 billion in US currency, they can go
buy Ethanol from Brazil, maybe even US.

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