When many people think about boosting yield through biotechnology, insect and disease resistance readily come to mind. But Tuesday’s 4 pm BIO panel on agriculture discussed a more significant factor in crop losses. In Saving Harvests, Lives & Livelihoods: Breakthroughs in Plant Stress Tolerance Technologies, the focus was on the problems of abiotic stress, and some potential solutions. READ MORE »
“Farmer Gene” provided a great summary of yesterday’s panel on “Ag Biotech – Improving Farmers’ Lives.” The panel included three farmers from different parts of the world who spoke about the benefits of ag biotech to their income and farming. We had interviewed two of the panelists, Rosalie Ellasus of the Philippines and Gabriela Cruz of Portugal, a few times before the panel.
Please click the links below to see more:
Gabriela Cruz’s video interview below. Gabriela also authored a piece for Forbes.com on President Obama and his support of ag bio tech.
We did not have an opportunity to interview Terry Wanzek, a fourth generation North Dakota farmer, but you can watch this video courtesy of YouTube.
Clive Cookson, covering the BIO meeting in Atlanta, writes in the Financial Times today, “Brent Erickson, head of Bio’s industrial and environmental section, said the target set by the new National Renewable Fuel Standard - to increase production of cellulosic biofuel from nothing this year to 1bn gallons in 2013 and 16bn gallons in 2022 - was achievable.”
“New technology uses enzymes and micro-organisms to break down tough molecules such as cellulose in grasses and lignin in wood, producing ethanol and other liquids for use as fuels that can replace petrol (gasoline) or diesel for transport. Jack Huttner, who runs a cellulosic ethanol partnership between DuPont of the US and Danisco of Denmark, said: ‘From our point of view the technology is ready for commercialisation. It is no longer five years from the market.’”
Read the Financial Times piece here.
According to a report released today by UK-based PG Economics at the BIO Convention farmers around the world are growing more crops in a more environmentally sustainable manner.
The use of biotech crops has contributed significantly to:
- Removing 14.2 billion kg of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere — equal to removing nearly 6.3 million cars from the road for one year.
- Providing substantial net economic benefits at the farm level amounting to $10.1 billion in 2007 and $44.1 billion for 1996 to 2007.
Terry Wanzek, a farmer from North Dakota, who spoke at the press conference stated, “Because of biotechnology, we’re able to feed more people with less farmland than ever before. Biotechnology enhances production efficiency and creates a more plentiful supply of safe, reliable and affordable food for a hungry world. In the years ahead, our capabilities will do nothing but improve.”
There were several panels related to agricultural biotechnology on the second day of the BIO Convention focusing on a variety of issues including high-performing energy crops, emerging standards for stewardship in agriculture, private public partnerships to promote agricultural development and increasing drought tolerance in plants.
We had the opportunity to interview Michael Metzlaff of Bayer CropScience, the moderator of the “Breakthroughs in Plant Stress Tolerance Technologies” who spoke of the advances in research in drought tolerant crops.
We also talked with Daniel Mataruka of African Agricultural Technology Foundation, who spoke on the “Public-Private Partnerships in Agricultural Biotechnology: Going Beyond Development Impact” panel. Dr. Mataruka spoke of the political resistance to ag biotech in Africa and the efforts to overcome the opposition.
BIOtechNOW Blog wrote about the “The Value Proposition for Next-Generation Energy Crops: Value Chain and Business Model Considerations” panel:
Food & Ag sessions got off to an interesting start this morning as three companies told their very different tales of sailing turbulent economic waters over the past two years in search of profitable harbors.
With oil at $140/barrel, it looked like a game almost anybody could play. With oil at $50/barrel things are a lot more competitive.
Aaron Schuchart (Mendel BioTechnology) described Mendel’s approach to the challenges of making and selling improved seeds to serve farmers seeking to provide feedstock for biomass energy and fuels. When a 10 percent increase in yield can improve producer margins by 114 percent, it’s a market worthy of attention. Mendel is working with a variety of materials including sugarcane and, Miscanthus, testing a broad variety of germplasm in search of the best material to adapt to regional markets.