Weekly Biotech Blog Roundup

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To find out more about this check out the Web site of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Also this week, Patent Docs wrote about a media briefing we (BIO) held about healthcare reform, patent reform, and the energy bill. Kevin Noonan did a nice job summarizing what went on in the briefing. To hear the briefing for yourself check out our podcast. Elsewhere in healthcare the Burrill Report spoke to BIO's president and CEO, Jim Greenwood,

"about healthcare reform, other items on the industry’s legislative agenda, and whether new NIH director Francis Collin’s idea to boost his agency’s funding by collecting royalties from the industry, has any chance of flying."

Listen to the Burrill Report's podcast In the world of agriculture can you put organic farming and genetic engineering in the same sentence? According to the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI), an associate organization of BIO you can.

“Dr. Pamela Ronald, University of California-Davis Professor and Raoul Adamchak, Market Garden Coordinator at the UC Davis Student Farm, are featured on Fora.tv. This video about the marriage of two strange bedfellows, genetic engineering and organic farming, elucidates the complementary nature of agricultural biotechnology and organic farming. Dr. Ronald is a member of our Experts List.”

Watch their video here. Being environmentally friendly can be difficult, particularly if you’re not sure which products are which. Now all that may change and being green may become easier. According to treehugger, a Discovery company, the USDA is proposing a “BioPreferred” label for biobased products. Treehugger writes,

“Under the proposed plan, the label could be used on any product that is "wholly or significantly" made with renewable biological ingredients; in other words, anything made with "renewable plant, animal, marine or forestry materials."

So just how many products are we talking?

“According to a USDA press release, there are currently about 15,000 products in 200 categories that would qualify for this label.”

But according to Treehugger this opens up a whole other can of worms, that is:

“Will imports qualify for the BioPreferred label? And what about imported raw materials used in manufacturing in the United States? It seems there's some discrepancy between "using American agricultural products" and the BioPreferred products. Colorado-based Sustainable Flooring has several bamboo flooring products listed in the online database, which would presumably end up carrying the BioPreferred label. But they are all made with Mao Tzu bamboo, which is grown in China.”

“I'm a little confused as to how this uses American agricultural products or how it is beneficial to rural America's economies,” writes Treehugger’s blogger, Naturally Saavy.

Then there is our (BIO’s) post, “Roundtable: Biobased Products Are a Missed Opportunity for Climate Change Legislation.” This is a roundtable discussion that can be downloaded as a podcast, roundtable discussion with biotechnology companies that make renewable chemicals and oils for everyday products to talk about the environmental benefits associated with these products. Speakers include Matt Carr, policy director, BIO; Snehal Desai, Business Vice President, Segetis (Golden Valley, MN); Aaron Kelley, Senior Scientist, Genencor (Palo Alto, CA); Marc Verbruggen, CEO, NatureWorks, LLC (Minnetonka, MN); Ben Locke, Director of Government Programs, Metabolix, Inc (Cambridge, MA); Corrine Young, Director of Government Affairs, Myriant Technologies LLC (Quincy, MA). Jim Imbler, President & CEO, ZeaChem, Inc. (Lakewood, CO) Next, in the world of synthetic biology, Pharmtech.com reports that Craig Venter’s team has announced a

“key advance in synthetic biology.”

What was the advance? Well,

“they successfully transformed one bacterium into a different strain by transferring the entire bacterial genome of the first strain into a second, related strain of bacteria. In order to accomplish this feat, the team performed what they called a genetic first: they transferred genes from a prokaryote to a eukaryote and back to a prokaryote. The genetic manipulations they performed represent an important advance in synthetic biology.”

That’s pretty nifty technology if you ask me. Patricia Van Arnum, the blogger for Pharmtech.com finishes off her post by talking about synthetic biology’s market potential.

“The field of synthetic biology is still emerging, but market analysts are optimistic about its commercial potential. The global market for synthetic biology was $233.8 million in 2008, according to a June 2009 report by Business Communications Company (BCC), a Norwalk, Connecticut-based market research firm. This value is expected to increase to $2.4 billion in 2013, for a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 59.8%. Chemicals and energy represent the largest market segment for synthetic biology, which was valued at $80.6 million in 2008, and is projected to reach $1.6 billion in 2013, for a CAGR of 81.6%, according to BCC. The biotechnology and pharmaceuticals segment is the second-largest market sector, valued at approximately $80.3 million in 2008. This segment is projected to increase at a CAGR of 49.2% to reach $594 million in 2013, according to BCC.”

What could be a better way to end a blog post, than with hope for the future. That's it for now. See you next week.