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Majority of U.S. Adults Support Government Incentives for Biofuels

Four in five U.S. adults (80%) strongly or somewhat agree that national and state governments are not doing enough to promote production of biofuels -- fuels made from agricultural crops or plant matter -- according to a new survey released by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive(R), also found that 82% of adults say national and state governments should provide financial incentives to biofuels producers to encourage the production and availability of biofuels. More than two out of three adults (69%) would use American-made biofuels even if these fuels cost slightly more than conventional gas. And more than eight of every 10 (84%) say they would be at least somewhat likely to support federal and state political candidates who favor providing incentives to promote increased production and availability of biofuels throughout the United States.

Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO, said, "Developing domestic biofuels and ending our over-reliance on foreign oil appear to be top concerns among Americans in this election year, our survey finds. Reducing dependence on oil and lessening environmental impacts are important to our nation's future economic growth and competitiveness. A strong majority of Americans clearly support federal and state financial incentives to promote development of biofuels such as ethanol that can help end our addiction to oil. And they are ready to support political candidates who favor such incentives."

The survey asked respondents how strongly they agreed or disagreed with certain statements about biofuels. Half of U.S. adults (50%) strongly agreed and a third (30%) somewhat agreed that "Federal and state governments are not doing enough to promote the production of biofuels." When asked, "Do you think the production and availability of biofuel should be encouraged by national and state governments providing financial incentives to biofuel producers?" four out of five respondents (82%) said, "Yes."

"The American people clearly have spoken. They recognize the production of biofuels is a national priority," stated Greenwood. "We see support for continuing and expanding existing tax credits and other biofuels production incentives. Next year, Congress will have the opportunity to fund advanced research and provide additional incentives that will help build a growing biofuel industry that will continue to enhance our national security and create new jobs going forward. With industrial biotechnology processes now available that transform crop residues such as corn stover, wheat straw and rice straw into ethanol, America could soon meet an even larger portion of its transportation fuel needs with biofuels."

More than half (57%) of U.S. adults were able to correctly define biofuels as fuel made from agricultural crops or plant matter.

"BIO supports the production of ethanol from all feedstocks," Greenwood stated. "Agricultural biotechnology is helping to increase corn yields, while industrial biotechnology is helping to convert corn starch and crop residues into ethanol more efficiently. With ongoing advances in biotechnology, biofuels can help America meet nearly half its transportation-fuel needs by the middle of this century."

The survey also asked adults to rate the importance to them "that biofuel production in America helps to accomplish" the goals of creating jobs in rural areas, making America less dependent on foreign oil, and reducing gas prices. Eight of 10 respondents (81%) rated making America less dependent on foreign oil very important or important. Seven of 10 (73%) rated decreasing gas prices very important or important. And lastly, nearly seven in 10 (68%) rated creating jobs in rural areas very important or important.

Harris Interactive conducted the survey on behalf of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) by telephone within the United States between October 5 and October 8, 2006 among 1,031 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, geographic region, and race were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. With a pure probability sample of 1,031 one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 3 percentage points. However that does not take other sources of error into account.

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

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