Midwest to test sugarcorn for ethanol

The American breadbasket's amber waves are getting a glimpse of a fledgling new neighbor that's bred for ethanol and comes with striking similarities to sugarcane.

The Brazilian ethanol industry has prospered by relying on ample supplies of sugarcane, which is easier than corn to turn into ethanol. Sugarcane has fueled a successful drive for Brazilian energy independence. But sugarcane, which needs a long, warm growing season, remains little more than a tropical daydream for Midwestern farmers.

Now a Seattle biotechnology company is developing "sugarcorn." The company, Targeted Growth Inc., had been searching for a crop that could be adapted to produce sugar in a way similar to sugarcane but also could grow in the Great Plains.

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