News | September 10, 2008

New Solutions To Global Energy Challenges Explored At BIO's Pacific Rim Summit

VANCOUVER, British Columbia--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Both Canada and the United States have the opportunity to develop low carbon fuels through advanced biotechnology and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said speakers at BIO's Pacific Rim Summit on Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Summit's opening plenary session featured a discussion of how advanced biofuels can reduce climate change emissions, with Chris Somerville, director of the Energy Biosciences Institute at the University of California Berkeley, and Don O'Connor, president of (S&T)² Consultants Inc.

O'Connor asserted that Canada must do something to address climate change, and he noted that two provinces are currently developing low carbon fuel standards similar to California. "Like any other activity, bioenergy and biofuels can be well done or poorly done. If they are done poorly, then the environmental and social benefits will not be delivered. It is not what you do but how you do it that creates an environmental benefit," O'Connor stated.

O'Connor said that Canada must identify and support deserving technologies that deliver rather than overpromise environmental benefits, noting that the federal government has made $500 million available to match investments in sustainable technologies for biofuels. "If bioenergy projects are done well, Canada can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, achieve economic benefits, and further diversify its energy portfolio," he concluded.

Somerville examined what the United States' energy future could be through advanced research. He defined "responsible biofuels" as those that do not displace food production, do not convert undeveloped land, do not increase erosion or runoff, and show a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through a full life cycle analysis. "There is adequate land and a number of possible feedstocks that can be used to produce biofuels. Further, there are new technologies that can lead to better biofuels," Somerville said.

The Pacific Rim Summit is the only global conference dedicated to building innovative collaborations in industrial biotechnology across the Pacific. The conference is co-organized by BIO, BIOTECanada, and Life Sciences British Columbia with additional support provided by BC Innovation Council and Genome British Columbia. Media registration is complimentary for credentialed members of the news media.

The Advanced Biofuels & Climate Change Information Center presents the latest commentary and data on the environmental and other impacts of biofuel production. Drop in and add your comments, at

BIO represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the BIO International Convention, the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world.

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