January 29, 2007

From Food to Fuel to Fashion

Well, it's not exactly up to the level inspired by George Washington Carver yet, but take it as an indication that one of the benefits of a paradigm shift to renewable biofuels will be stimulation of new byproduct and side-stream chemical industries. Aside from further weaning us from petroleum waste conversion, bioproducts are good "carbon sinks" and, more often than not, biodegradable.

Here was a little fun at the BIO 2006 conference:

From Food to Fuel to Fashion
BIO 2006 Features Consumer Products Made With Industrial Biotechnology
by Paul Winters at BIO

On Monday, April 10, during the BIO 2006 International Conference, BIO hosted a media brunch, "From Food to Fuel to Fashion: Industrial Biotech Does It All." The brunch provided reporters an opportunity to taste, use, and see products produced through industrial and environmental biotechnology, as well as learn how these technologies can enable energy security.

The highlight of the brunch was a fashion show with models wearing everyday clothing and designer clothes made from polylactic acid (PLA), a compostable biopolymer made from dextrose corn sugar. There were also exhibits of products made from PLA and polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA), including bedding products, packaging materials, and baby products.

The menu featured foods made with the help of enzymes or flavorings manufactured through industrial biotechnology, including yogurts, breads and rolls, meats, and juices. All foods and beverages were served on bioplastic plates, cups and utensils made from agricultural feedstocks, instead of oil.

(Sue Cischke, Vice President, Environment and Safety Engineering at Ford) outlined Ford's interest in biotechnology, reminding the audience, "Henry Ford maintained a keen interest in materials that could be grown on the farm and built into automobiles." Ford, she said, is looking to form a coalition of industries - including automobiles, fuel distributors, and innovators - to work toward the goal of replacing petroleum-based products in industry.

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO's Industrial and Environmental Biotechnology Section, hosted the event.

Erickson predicted that 2006 would be the tipping point in the creation of a biobased economy in the United States, with renewable products replacing petroleum-based products in countless industries.

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