When I pull into the gas station I am normally rolling in on fumes just hoping I don’t run out of gas. I pull into the nearest possible pump and begin fueling. Normally I am in such of a hurry that I don’t take time to stop and look at what I am actually putting into my vehicle. Turns out, it may be more than just fuel. It is a fuel blend that may be doing more than you think… ethanol. Here are five things you may not have known about ethanol in your fuel.

  1. High Octane

4-5-16Ethanol_Photo_1You may be asking yourself, what does high octane mean? I myself was unsure of what it meant until I researched it in further detail! According to the Federal Trade Commission, octane ratings are a measurement of the ability of gasoline to repel engine knock, which is a rattling noise resulting from a premature ignition of a condensed fuel-air blend in one or more cylinders. Ethanol happens to be considered an octane-enhancing additive. E10, which is a ten percent ethanol blend in gasoline, happens to be offered in all grades of gas and has the ability to be used in most models of vehicles regularly.

  1. Low Cost

Ethanol is not the only high-octane enhancer that has been used. Aromatics have similar high-octane enhancers compared to ethanol and have been used in many blends of gas in the past. Although, aromatics are a more expensive commodity as compared to ethanol. In 2013 an aromatic called benzene was the highest prices aromatic, but has since disappeared in early 2015. According to AgFax, a study was done that showed that purchasing ethanol, as a high-octane blend, was cheaper than the average price of three high-octane aromatic enhancers.

  1. Renewable

Ethanol is considered a renewable fuel. It is made from a wide array of plant materials commonly known as biomass. One industry that specifically benefits from ethanol is corn production because corn has high starch content. Nearly 40% of the U.S corn production is being used for the ethanol industry. Utilizing these ethanol blends in today’s gasoline is a successful way to oxygenate gasoline and reduce air pollution.

  1. American Made

4-5-16maxresdefaultMany ethanol production plants are located in the Midwest because there is a large majority of corn production in the Midwest. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture about 90% of ethanol is transported by train or truck while the remaining 10% is traditionally transported by barge. Therefore, a large majority American Made ethanol remains within the United States for gasoline blends such E10 or E85.

  1. No wars

Because Saudi Arabia and the Middle East is a large producer in the production of petroleum, this causes great conflict with buying and importing into the United States. Often prices are extremely high. The advantage of American made ethanol is knowing where it is coming from. We are extremely independent in the production of ethanol, which gives us advantages both from an economic and environmental standpoint.

Next time you stop to fuel up… consider that you are putting more than just regular fuel in the tank. You are putting in a blend that is so much more.

Nicole Chance


Nicole Chance
University of Illinois


I understand that there are certain Americans that want to know if their foods contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  I understand that they are scared of GMOs (even though there is not scientifically valid reason.)  I understand that they believe a label will help them avoid the scary GMOs (even though most drafted labeling laws so far have many exceptions so that they actually still don’t allow someone to avoid ingesting GMOs.)

GMO labelingBut this post isn’t about any of that.

In this article, I’m not questioning whether or not GMO labeling proponents have a point or even whether or not their thinking is valid.  I’m not saying that GMOs are good for you or bad for you or even that there is absolutely no difference between the two.

I am saying that our current course on GMO labeling is going to throw us WAY off track.

America has put herself in a position to allow Vermont to make the rules for everyone.

Vermont’s GMO labeling law goes into effect in July.  At that time, most food manufacturers will have changed or updated packaging to reflect GMO contents or will have reformulated their ingredients to not include GMOs at all (costly for everyone!) in order to comply with Vermont’s law.  Every state will likely get these new packages and formulations (and increased prices) because it’s too cumbersome to prepare some product for Vermont and the rest of the product for the rest of the U.S.

But there are big problems and here is one.

Under California law, the State requires that all labels used in connection with advertising and consumer sales of milk, milk products, frozen desserts, cheeses, and products resembling milk products must receive prior approval.  The Vermont GMO labeling requirement exempts certain dairy products to protect Vermont interests, but it did not exempt items such as flavored milk or desserts, putting them on a collision course with out-of-state regulators.

California’s rejection of the Vermont label leaves U.S. food manufacturers in an impossible situation.  Companies will face a $1,000 per product, per day fine if they don’t comply with a misleading GMO warning label.  But the label would likely be rejected in California (and Pennsylvania who has similar pre-approval provisions) as misleading.

To make it even better, the Vermont Attorney General, who is in charge of food labeling, is no longer taking direct questions or providing answers.

This is one small example of the ridiculousness of the current GMO labeling path.

No matter which side of the fence you are on, surely you can see the need for a national GMO standard, a label that means something (like the non-GMO certified label included in the House bill) and a means for food companies to be able to comply with all laws.

Call your U.S. Senator today and ask them to take action!  We’ve already got a GMO labeling bill through the House of Representatives so we’re halfway to a reasonable solution!

Lindsay Mitchell 11/14Lindsay Mitchell
ICGA/ICMB Marketing Director