WASHINGTON, D.C. (Monday, April 28, 2008) - The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today honored the creativity and vision of George Washington Carver as the inspiration for ongoing innovations in industrial biotechnology. During a plenary lunch of the World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioprocessing, BIO presented the first annual George Washington Carver Award to Dr. Patrick Gruber, CEO, Gevo, Inc., recognizing his accomplishments in creating and commercializing a new plastic made from annually renewable resources.
Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, presented the award, saying, “We are honoring George Washington Carver because he was one of the founding fathers of modern industrial biotechnology. Today, his legacy lives on in industrial biotechnology companies that are developing new methods to use renewable agricultural resources to manufacture fuels, plastics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and food ingredients, just as Carver did during the first half of the 20th century. Science has developed in ways that Carver may never have imagined, but the work remains true to his goal – a sustainable agricultural economy that includes production of useful everyday products.
“Today we honor Carver’s creativity and vision as we recognize Dr. Patrick Gruber for his contribution to innovation in industrial biotechnology and progress in creating a biobased economy.”
George Washington Carver achieved world renown by using agriculture and science to produce everyday products, changing the nature of farm economics and sustainability. From an early age, Carver pursued an interest in plants, eventually earning a graduate degree in botany from Iowa State University. Carver devoted his career to teaching sustainable farming, which for him included developing new uses of agricultural products that could boost farm profits.
To help farmers adopt sustainable practices, Carver and his students developed more than 300 industrial uses for peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other crops that could be grown in rotation with cotton and corn. Carver’s inventions included plastics, glue, soaps, paints, dyes for cloth and leather, medicines and cosmetic ingredients.
His work inspired leaders of the chemurgy movement, whose proponents looked for ways to replace petrochemicals with farm-derived products. Leaders of the chemurgy movement such as Charles Kettering and William Jay Hale proposed that anything made from a hydrocarbon could be made from a carbohydrate.
As vice president and chief technology officer of Cargill Dow LLC/NatureWorks from 1997 to 2005, Gruber spearheaded the market introduction of NatureWorks™ PLA and Ingeo™ fibers. He oversaw the construction and launch in 2000 of the first large-scale manufacturing facility for a material developed from 100 percent annually renewable resources. He led the company’s efforts of continual process and technology improvement, making NatureWorks™ PLA a major influence in the global plastic and fibers markets. Gruber is currently CEO of Gevo, Inc., a company dedicated to bringing renewable cost-effective alternatives for fossil fuels and chemicals to consumers worldwide.
Accompanying the award is a George Washington Carver scholarship given in the name of Dr. Patrick Gruber to Iowa State University. The award is sponsored by BIOWA and the Iowa Biotechnology Association.
For photos of the award or presentation, please contact Paul Winters at 202-359-6571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The “Advanced Biofuels & Climate Change Information Center” presents the latest commentary and data on the environmental and other impacts of biofuel production. Drop in and add your comments, at http://biofuelsandclimate.wordpress.com/.
BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.
Upcoming BIO Events
· World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing
April 27-30, 2008
· 2008 BIO International Convention
June 17-20, 2008
San Diego, Calif.
· Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy
Sept. 10-12, 2008