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Fargo Conference Highlights Future for Biotechnology

Submitted by on May 29, 2014 – 7:20 pmNo Comment

(Forum News Service/SC Times)  Opportunities to provide bio-based industrial products exist, but they probably will need to provide price, utility and environmental benefits, especially if they want to compete at a premium to petrochemical substitutes, according to a recent industry conference.

The inaugural Future of the Bio-Industry Action Summit — with the theme Feed, Fuel, Heal and Build the World — was May 21 at North Dakota State University.

Marvin Duncan, a retired agricultural economist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Chief Economist, cautioned that simply developing a company and calling it bio-based won’t make it successful.

To be truly successful, bioproducts offer price, performance and measurable environmental benefits. Still, he said the U.S. must invest in research because the nation’s renewable biochemicals could reach 3,200 tons by 2022, compared with 165 tons in 2012. He said value could reach $3 billion annually (and as much as six times that) by 2022, with a one-time capital investment of $6 billion.

“We’re all in the same boat for food security,” Enright (Cathy Enright, executive vice president for food and agriculture for the Biotechnology Industry Organization) said. “It will be the U.S., Canada and Russia that have the ability — if our policies are right — to feed this world in 2050. We’d need every tool in the toolbox — organic, conventional, biotech and the new technologies that are coming — the synthetic biology. … If folks don’t have enough food — fat, protein — wars begin. Fights over water, fights over food.”  READ MORE

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