Plant-based Technologies - Panel addressed positive impact of biotech

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The speakers at this morning's breakout session "Plant Science Technologies: Recent Advances That Will Change Our World " - tackled the many ways that plant-based technologies are having a positive impact, from renewable fuels to food and medicines. Bruce Ferguson, President of Edenspace, set the context for the importance of plant-based technologies in the production of renewable fuels. He explained that cellulosic biofuels could account for 50% of the total US demand for fuel and he argued for a regional approach that focuses on different crops for different parts of the US. (For instance poplars in the western US and switchgrass in the midwest.) He also discussed the technologies being developed by Edenspace that will help meet the growing demand for renewable fuels and fight global warming, including their Energy Corn. Scott Kohl, from ICM, Inc. then explained how biotechnology is enabling us to put traits into energy crops that make them break down more easily, reducing the number of inputs needed to process them into fuel. This important development helps reduce the costs for both the producer and consumer. Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Adrian Polansky discussed the role of the government in both providing oversight of new plant-based technologies and protecting public safety and also ensuring that those technologies can come to market in a timely way. He stressed the many benefits that biotechnology provides to the public, including fighting food scarcity, ensuring food safety, providing more nutritious foods, playing a key role in the development of medicines, helping us to renewable energy, providing safe bio-based chemicals, and helping reduce our environmental footprint. Finally, attendees learned about how plant-based technologies are helping improve global health through products that combat childhood diarrhea. Products like those developed by Ventria are helping reduce the duration of childhood diarrhea, allowing more children around the world to return to school more quickly and helping save lives by reducing the deaths caused by dehydration from diarrhea.