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Turning Plants Into Products:
Delivering on the Potential of Industrial Biotechnology

Apr 01, 2011



Industrial biotechnology can turn plants into plastics, chemicals and other products that are usually made with petroleum. Although industrial biotech is environmentally friendly and could play a significant role in helping to wean the U.S. off foreign oil, the industry faces an uphill battle because of petroleum's price advantage.

This report examines the challenges facing the industrial biotechnology sector and identifies market- and policy-based responses. The report captures the results of the Institute's Financial Innovations LabTM in which stakeholders and experts in the field discussed how the United States could facilitate the flow of private capital into the production of bio-based products.

"There is much appeal for policymakers to invest in expanding the biotech-derived chemical industry. In the long term, it has environmental advantages and offers an alternative to foreign oil," said Joel Kurtzman, executive director of the Milken Institute's Center for Accelerating Energy Solutions. "In the short term, it offers the immediate benefit of rural employment opportunity."

Instead of petroleum, industrial biotechnology uses biological resources such as plants, algae, marine life, fungi and micro-organisms, and biosolids to produce a broad range of products from plastics and chemicals to face creams and detergents.

"Turning Plants Into Products" outlines practical, sustainable approaches for creating an economic environment where industrial biotech companies can become established and thrive.