From Fuel to Food to Fashion

On Monday, April 10, during the BIO 2006 International Conference, BIO hosted a media brunch, "From Food to Fuel to Fashion: Industrial Biotech Does It All." The brunch provided reporters an opportunity to taste, use, and see products produced through industrial and environmental biotechnology, as well as learn how these technologies can enable energy security.

The highlight of the brunch was a fashion show with models wearing everyday clothing and designer clothes made from polylactic acid (PLA), a compostable biopolymer made from dextrose corn sugar. There were also exhibits of products made from PLA and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), including bedding products, packaging materials, and baby products.

The menu featured foods made with the help of enzymes or flavorings manufactured through industrial biotechnology, including yogurts, breads and rolls, meats, and juices. All foods and beverages were served on bioplastic plates, cups and utensils made from agricultural feedstocks, instead of oil.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO's Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology Section, hosted the event. The panel of presenters featured:

  • Sue Cischke, vice president, Environment and Safety Engineering at Ford;
  • Steen Riisgaard, president and CEO of Novozymes;
  • Dennis McGrew, president and CEO of NatureWorks;
  • Brian Foody, president and CEO of Iogen;
  • Leendert Staal, CEO of DSM Pharmaceuticals; and
  • Jim Barber, CEO of Metabolix.

Cischke outlined Ford's interest in biotechnology, reminding the audience, "Henry Ford maintained a keen interest in materials that could be grown on the farm and built into automobiles." Ford, she said, is looking to form a coalition of industries - including automobiles, fuel distributors, and innovators - to work toward the goal of replacing petroleum-based products in industry.

Erickson predicted that 2006 would be the tipping point in the creation of a biobased economy in the United States, with renewable products replacing petroleum-based products in countless industries.