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For a fuel that may help solve US energy woes, gasohol certainly stirs a lot of caution in people. If all goes as planned, the US will -- over the next decade -- expand its crops-for-fuel production from the present 120 million gallons of alcohol a year to 2 billion gallons. Gasohol is a blend of one part of alcohol to nine parts of gasoline.

But consumer advocates warn that producing 2 billion gallons of alcohol a year will require 800,000 bushels of corn -- diverting supplies from the dinner table and thus driving up food prices. farmers reply that the byproduct from alcohol production is an excellent, high-protein cattle feed that will help moderate food price increases.

Environmentalists also are concerned. Reaching the 2 billion-gallon target would mean adding another 20 million acres to the present corn acreage of 80 million -- which would mean farming more marginal land that is subject to erosion.

The goal is winning new support from cities, however -- particularly those that have both high unemployment rates and abandoned distilleries that could be put back into use producing alcohol.m

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