Biotechnology Is Accelerating the Evolution of Advanced Biofuels

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Thursday, April 17, 2008) - Biotechnology is delivering solutions to rapidly rising demand for both food and biofuels through improvements in current biofuel production, commercialization of cellulosic and other advanced biofuels, and increased production of food and energy crops on existing land. Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, released the following statement at the Biomass 2008: Fueling Our Future conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Biomass Program:

“Biotechnology is the key to sustainable, affordable biofuel production. As companies across the United States plan construction of cellulosic ethanol refineries to meet the goals of the Renewable Fuel Standard, industrial biotech scientists continue to reduce the cost of advanced biofuels. Several companies are even looking beyond ethanol to biobutanol and even biobased hydrocarbons.

“Biotechnology advances are improving current biofuel production in three key ways: increasing biomass yield per acre, increasing the amount of ethanol extracted from each acre of crop, and reducing the amount of energy needed in the process. For instance, a newly developed enzyme eliminates the need to cook corn to produce ethanol and increases the yield by 6 percent.

“Agricultural biotechnology is helping farmers around the globe meet the growing demand for food, animal feed, fiber and biofuels by increasing crop yields per acre and by developing new sources of non-food plants for biofuels. Since the introduction of agricultural biotechnology in 1996, corn yields have increased 30 percent and soybean yields have increased more than 20 percent. Biotech scientists are also studying the genomes of sorghum, switchgrass and other non-food plants to optimize them for use in advanced biofuel production.”

In Erickson’s presentation at the Biomass 2008 conference he outlined specific ways that biotechnology is accelerating biofuel development:

·            Improving the energy efficiency and yields of starch to ethanol processes;

·            Enabling conversion of crop residues and dedicated energy crops in cellulosic ethanol processes;

·            Producing new fuels such as biobutanol from carbohydrate feedstocks;

·            Developing groundbreaking technology such as synthetic biology to produce renewable hydrocarbons from agricultural feedstocks;

·            Improving crop yields for both food and fuel crops; and

·            Developing new dedicated energy crops.


“These advances in biotechnology are making it possible for the U.S. to meet the Renewable Fuel Standard and accelerating the evolution of the industry toward cellulosic biofuels,” Erickson stated. The RFS sets a goal of annually producing 21 billion gallons of cellulosic and advanced biofuels by 2022.

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

Upcoming BIO Events

 ·   BIO National Venture Conference 
    April 22-23, 2008
    Boston, Mass.

 ·   World Congress on Industrial Biotechnology & Bioprocessing  
    April 27-30, 2008
    Chicago, Ill.

 ·   2008 BIO International Convention 
    June 17-20, 2008
    San Diego, Calif.

 ·  Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy
    Sept. 10-12, 2008
    Vancouver, B.C., Canada


About BIO
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 annual BIO International Convention, the world’s largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.