Ethanol Billboards Spark Debate
Billboards show a man in Middle Eastern clothes and a Missouri farmer wearing a baseball cap. The ad asks, "Who would you rather buy gas from?" The Middle Eastern man is the former king of Saudi Arabia who died in 2005, while the farmer is a Missouri corn grower.
University of Missouri student Safa Alrashed is from Saudi Arabia. She said the ad is in poor taste.
"I would find it more hostile than offensive," she added. "I think there's a better way to put the message they want to say, if it's a comparison between two places where to buy your gas from, you don't need to put his picture."
Missouri corn grower Terry Hilgedick, who posed for the ad, said it was not intended to offend people.
"The intent of the ad campaign is to bring about an awareness of the fact that we do have a choice now in our fuel supply," he explained. "It's not only oil, but we do have a choice in the ethanol. It's a renewable fuel. It's produced right here in Missouri."
The state corn growers association, which paid for the billboards, said it didn't want to offend anyone.
"We think it accurately displays the situation, which is, do we want to continue to increase our dependence on foreign oil or is it time to increase our dependence instead on Midwestern farmers?" said Gary Marshall, head of the association. "And we think the message on the billboards displays that very well."
The associations put the ads on billboards thoughout the state to raise awareness about ethanol legislation lawmakers are considering in Jefferson City. The House passed the ethanol bill Wednesday with only six votes against it. A Senate committee also held a hearing on the bill Wednesday.