Energy Bill Passes Senate With Bio-Ethanol Related Provision

This headline indicates much more than a political dream of uncertain outcome; rather, it's a predetermined future in which corporate biotechnology interests may collide with those of the oil companies. TreeHugging power comes when corn growers join hands with wheat, beet, and sugar farmers as well as the budding biotech industry. This will give lobbying a whole new flavor and identfies new interests for TreeHuggers to get aquainted with. Here are a few key excerpts on the coverage by "Bioworld Today". "The Senate ... energy bill that has the attention of many industrial and environmental biotechnology companies, given its provisions related to bioengineered ethanol...it includes not only measures aimed at increasing ethanol through standard means - that produced from corn grain - but also incentives to scale up development of ethanol generated from crop biomass such as corn stover or wheat straw, courtesy of biotech-engineered enzymes.

The legislation ...creates greater incentives for bioethanol and biobased plastics production from crop biomass and provides funding for research and development of new biotech enzymes. Called cellulases, they can be used to convert cellulose from agricultural waste into simple sugar molecules, far more inexpensively than current technology allows, and then the sugar is fermented into ethanol.

...Among firms that stand to gain from the legislation are enzyme development companies such as Genencor International Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., and Novozymes A/S, of Bagsvaerd, Denmark, both for conventional ethanol and that produced from cellulose. Also in the mix are biobased plastics-interested firms such as DuPont, of Wilmington, Del.; Dow Chemical Co., of Midland, Mich.; Cargill Inc., of Minneapolis; and Metabolix Inc., of Cambridge, Mass. Those plastics are derived from cellulose-based sugars".

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