Could genetically-Modified plants Produce Alcohol Directly?

John Kerry is in the Midwest, again pandering to the farm vote…he called for the Federal Government to subsidize ethanol production (again) as a way to reduce our dependence on oil.
Now, we all know that producing alcohol from corn is a very inefficient process…you have to grow the corn, mash it up, ferment it, and distill off the alcohol. Would it be possible to produce plants that could make alcohol directly? In a green plant, photosynthesis allows the plant to turn water, minerals and sunshine into starches and sugars. Could a yeats gene be inserted into a plant, such that the palnt would then conevrt these starches directly into ethyl alcohol?
PS The only country that seems to have any sucess with alcohol as a fuel is Brazil…they produce a huge surplus of sugar, which they ferment and distill. About half the cars in Brazil run on alcohol. Imagine if we could do the same thing!
But somebody should eductae Kerry on how stupid his gasohol ideas are…doing this would COST us extra energy. :eek:

Inasmuch as you have couched an interesting little question in a steaming mound of pitworthy political opinion, I think I will wait until this thread is moved to GD before I give my factual answer.

Somebody should educate Ralph124c on how lame and out of place his political flaming is in GQ.

Yes…and it might free us from our dependency on Arab oil, the profits of which go to fund terrorism. The real “war on terror” starts with energy independence, not the child’s play of “elevated threat” alerts and a needless war in Iraq.

Those sites don’t answer your question, but they show that using GM to make ethanol production more efficient and affordable is in the works. I have no idea about direct ethanol production, but i assume its possible.

Excuse me, but I don’t see how I am "flaming"anybody. If a politician makes speeches , calling for the taxpayers to fund projects that make NO economic sense. that he/she is advocating stupidity. The fact is, at the current time, growing corn and turning it into alcohol (via fermentation and distillation) makes NO sense…the enegy input exceeds the output.How is this supposed to help the energy situation?
I know that Kerry has to make speeches…one would hope, however, that his speeches should show a true comprehension of issues. This country is in trouble because of high energy consumption and oil imports. telling midwestern farmers that growing more corn will solve the problem is not only untrue, it is a violation od common sense.

ralph - it’s mainly a stylistic issue. Here at the SDMB, you’ll find lots of purists, for one reason another (maybe because of the emphasis on facts, per se), and folks are used to the General Questions forum being used to pose, basically, questions. The attending material, while sometimes slightly canted, occasionally leaks into the land of the polemics, as yours did, and the BBQ pit is expressly designed for that stuff. However, your essential question, as Fear suggests, does have sufficient merit in itself to generate some enlightened conversation. Stay tuned. You (we) may learn something. xo C.

Thats not true with GM crops though.

This article concludes that each unit of energy (BTU or Kcal) invested in corn to ethanol production can produce 1.24 units of energy as output. But one of the studies cited estimate a return of 0.42 (that is, getting back only 42% of the energy invested…A recent Madison newspaper article featured a local farmer who grows several hundred bushels of corn per acre using relatively low energy input as the result of his use of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn. Until this past decade, ethanol from corn consumed more energy than it contained. But recently because of higher yields, ethanol from corn can become an energy source.

Notice that by far the largest energy cost for fertilizer is for nitrogen. A genetically modified corn that self fertilized (as legumes do) could reduce this energy input considerably

As for the original question, I don’t think it would be possible to produce ethanol directly. It tends to kill things, including the yeasts that produce it. If a plant could somehow withstand large concentrations of alcohol (this is might be impossible), I don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible to produce it directly. Many organisms can produce alcohol as a byproduct of anaerobic respiration, but I don’t know if any plants have this ability.


I’ve posted this because turpentine seems to be the closest product to alcohol that plants now produce.

Allow me to fight your ignorance…

This is not a question of fact, it is an expression of personal and partisan opinion.

This is not a question of fact, it is an expression of personal and partisan opinion.

This is not a question of fact, it is an expression of personal and partisan opinion.

This is not a question of fact, it is an expression of personal opinion.

You are quite aware that expressions of personal opinion, especially those of a partisan political nature belong in IMHO or GD. That you posted them anyway, proves that you are intentionally and willfully flaming these boards. That is a fact.

**ralph124c **

The title is suitable for a General Question. Your OP however is just a political rant. Politics and rants do not belong it this forum.

This is closed.

DrMatrix - GQ Moderator