Creating a Biobased Economy

The Industrial Biotechnology journal ran a Commentary, authored by BIO, showcasing the necessary policies to create a biobased economy. It said the industrial biotechnology sector’s greatest challenge is developing a successful, flourishing “biobased economy” where renewable agricultural feedstocks are converted to higher value products including biofuels and renewable chemicals; or microbial systems are used to produce chemical intermediates or in the manufacture of consumer products. A growing biobased economy can strengthen the nation’s economic security and enhance energy security, the Commentary asserted.  

President Obama has said, “the Administration will develop a National Bioeconomy Blueprint detailing steps to harness biological research innovations to address national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment.” 

Meeting this challenge of creating the biobased economy can really be viewed as a series of smaller challenges:  

  • Continuing biotech R&D in parallel with commercialization of products
  • Renewing the flow of capital to finance construction of first-of-a-kind commercial biorefineries
  • Establishing next generation feedstock supply chains
  • Training a new workforce for the bioeconomy
  • Ensuring a neutral regulatory atmosphere
  • Reducing market access barriers
  • Increasing public awareness and support for industrial biotech processes and products

BIO has created a proposal to meet these challenges, raise awareness of the biobased economy and attain the outstanding job creation and economic potential of industrial biotechnology and biorefinery commercialization.

The proposal calls for:

  • Reauthorizing and enhancing the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP)
  • The USDA’s Risk Management Agency finalizing research and working with stakeholders to establish a formal crop insurance program for purpose grown energy crops
  • Continuing development of domestic sources of energy by establishing a grant program to fund demonstration projects that utilize practices to enhance biofuel and bioenergy feedstock sustainability
  • Including renewable chemicals in the 2008 Farm Bill’s Title IX renewable energy programs
  • Providing federal income tax credits for domestically produced renewable chemicals
  • Considering amendment to current tax incentives to focus on bringing commercial volumes of affordable advanced biofuels to market in the near term
  • Establishing and providing necessary funding for a  Department of Defense Strategic Biorefinery Deployment Program
  • Repurposing  or retrofitting existing idle or underutilized manufacturing facilities for the production of advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals
  • Advancing the field of synthetic biology with a R&D Grants Program
  • Establishing an R&D program to fund projects in industrial biotechnology for renewable chemicals, biobased products, and renewable specialty chemicals
  • Providing grants for conducting environmental assessments for renewable chemicals and industrial products produced with industrial biotechnology

Find the complete article, published in the January 2012 Industrial Biotechnology journal by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., and available for free download (All rights reserved). The article is authored by Brent Erickson, Executive VP of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section (and Consulting Editor of Industrial Biotechnology); Matt Carr, Policy Director at BIO; and Paul Winters, Director of Communications at BIO.