WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 24, 2007) -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today applauded the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s “State of the Science Report: Bioengineering for Pollution Prevention through Development of Biobased Energy and Materials.” The report, completed by the Office of Research Development’s National Center for Environmental Research, provides a comprehensive assessment of the pollution prevention attributes of industrial biotechnology.
Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial and Environmental Section, said, “We applaud EPA for recognizing that advancements in industrial biotechnology offer an important contribution to the ‘clean tech’ universe. New industrial biotech applications will allow us to move away from petroleum-based fuels and products to renewable plant-based industrial commodities that are renewable, environmentally friendly and of greater availability. Industrial biotechnology is enabling a transformation from a petroleum-based economy to a sustainable biobased economy.”
The report details the benefits of petroleum replacement and states, “It appears that biological resources could become important contributors to the evolution of a post-petroleum world.”
Among the report’s key findings:
· The demand of the developed economies for petroleum is now reaching a level that is comparable to known reserve limits.
· The rapidity of development of techniques for manipulation and/or analysis of gene sequences and expression patterns, as well as the exponential rate of accumulation of genetic information about numerous industrial microorganisms, are enormous forces propelling the field of bioengineering forward.
· The application of industrial biotechnology to the production of commodities – notably fuels, chemicals and structural materials – increases the array of options available to supply sustainable resources and preserve the environment.
· Through the use of biological feedstocks, biotechnology has the potential to minimize greatly the overwhelming dependence developed countries, particularly the United States, have on petroleum and other non-renewable fossil fuels for production of fuels and plastics.
· Cellulosic and other biomass is currently available at the commodity scale and is increasingly cost-competitive with petroleum, especially when environmental costs are included.
· Biotech processes avoid use of harsh petrochemical feedstocks and reagents and thereby minimize toxic wastes. For example, biosynthesis of the denim dye, indigo, requires only glucose as a substrate, in contrast to conventional synthesis that requires benzene or other aromatic solvents.
Importantly, the EPA report confirms the findings in BIO’s report released in November 2007, “Achieving Sustainable Production of Agricultural Biomass for Biorefinery Feedstock.” Both reports conclude that the land resources of the United States are capable of producing a sustainable supply of biomass sufficient to displace 30 percent or more of the country’s present petroleum consumption, amounting to approximately 1 billion dry tons per day of biomass feedstock.
Erickson stated, “We fully support EPA’s conclusion that identifying critical research needs for producing industrial commodities with less environmental impact, combined with greater collaboration of scientists and engineers, is very important for the further commercialization of these processes.”
Industrial biotechnology is the key enabling technology that can help the United States actually prevent pollution, significantly reduce its reliance on petroleum, reverse growth in emissions of greenhouse gases and environmental pollution, and build a sustainable economy for the future. Full utilization of U.S. cellulosic biomass potential could reduce U.S. transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050. Reducing dependence on traditional fuel sources and lessening environmental impacts are important to future economic growth and competitiveness. Companies that adopt industrial biotechnology can cut costs, make better products, and increase profitability.
EPA’s full report can be accessed at http://es.epa.gov/ncer/publications/statesci/bioengineering.pdf.
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. BIO also produces the annual BIO International Convention, the global event for biotechnology. www.bio.org
Upcoming BIO Events
BIO InvestorForum 2007
October 9-11, 2007
Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy
November 14-16, 2007
World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing
April 27–30, 2008
BIO International Convention
June 17–20, 2008