Report Finds Industrial Biotechnology is Sparking a New and Cleaner Industrial Revolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 3, 2004) -- The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) today issued New Biotech Tools for a Cleaner Environment, which shows industrial biotechnology is facilitating a new industrial revolution that can bring a cleaner future with better products at lower cost.  This groundbreaking report is the first to present national data projections for the very positive environmental and energy saving impacts resulting from this “third wave” in biotechnology.  The report, prepared by BIO and independent consultants, highlights benefits already being realized in several major industrial sectors, including pulp and paper production, textiles, and transportation fuel.  For instance, if an industrial biotechnology process is used to bleach paper pulp it can reduce the amount of chlorine chemicals used during production by 10 to 15 percent, and, if used industry-wide, it can reduce bleaching-related energy uses by 40 percent. 

New Biotech Tools is the first major effort in the United States to identify leading-edge biotech processes and the benefits they are producing.  We are witnessing the creation of a new infrastructure based on biology instead of older rust belt technology and petroleum, through the coupling of modern industrial biotechnology and manufacturing.

“This radical shift in industrial production is more robust, adaptable and inherently cleaner than old-line manufacturing methods,” said Brent Erickson, BIO’s vice president for industrial and environmental biotechnology.  “New Biotech Tools for a Cleaner Environment provides a first look at the potential impact this technology can have to significantly ‘green’ the industrial landscape while helping companies cut costs and bring new consumer goods to market.”

“Getting pollution prevention results at a reduced cost is the preferred approach to increased environmental protection” said Ken Zarker, Chair of the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable, “We look forward to the huge potential for the responsible use of industrial biotechnology in the future. ‘

American industry spends billions of dollars annually on technology systems to manage waste and capture pollution emissions.  Industrial biotechnology    ─ the use of genetically enhanced microorganisms (GEMs) and enzymes ─ offers a new cost-effective way to prevent the creation of pollution in the first place.  Among the report’s findings:

·                                                   Industrial biotechnology now enables the production of ethanol transportation fuel from corn and cellulosic biomass such as crop residues (corn stover, wheat straw, rice straw, etc.).  It is estimated that bioethanol from cellulose generates eight to 10 times as much net energy as is required for its production, and one gallon of cellulosic ethanol can replace 30 gallons of imported oil equivalents. 

·                                                   Biotechnology process changes in the textile finishing sector can reduce water usage by about 17 to 18 percent.  Textile mills may potentially reduce water consumption by as much as 30 to 50 percent through the use of biotechnology.

·                                                   Bioplastics, which may be used to make products ranging from clothes to eating utensils to car parts, are biodegradable.  If widely used, bioplastics may reduce plastics in the waste stream by up to 80 percent. If all plastics were made from bio-based polylactic acid, oil consumption used in the manufacturing process would decrease by 90 to 145 million barrels per year. 

·                                                   Biotechnology process changes using GEMs in the nutraceutical and pharmaceutical sector during production of riboflavin (vitamin B2) can reduce associated carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent and water emissions by 67 percent. Changes in the production of the antibiotic cephalexin reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 50 percent, energy demand by 20 percent, and water usage by 75 percent.

·                                                   The market share of the biotechnology method of vitamin B2 production increased from 5 percent in 1990 to 75 percent in 2002.

New Biotech Tools for a Cleaner Environment is the first report to provide new industrial biotech projections for environmental improvement and energy conservation based on data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).  The report discusses the evolution of industrial biotechnology, pollution prevention policy and the increasing potential for industrial biotechnology to offer new and revolutionary ways to foster sustainable economic development, as well as possible environmental policy changes that can enhance the adoption of this technology.  The full report, New Biotech Tools for a Cleaner Environment, can be found on BIO’s Web site

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

** Note to editors and reporters: A full copy of the report, New Biotech Tools for a Cleaner Environment, executive summary, fact sheet and list of independent experts is available at BIO’s Web site at