The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 13, 2019, the European Commission (EC) published a fact sheet on the sustainability for biofuels specified.  EC adopted a delegated act that sets out the criteria for determining high low indirect land-use change (ILUC) risk feedstock for biofuels and the criteria for certifying ILUC-risk biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels.  ILUC-risk fuels consist of fuels produced from food and feed crops that significantly expand globally into land with high carbon stock (high ILUC-risk fuels).  The consequences of creating high ILUC-risk fuels relate to the release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which negates the emissions savings from the use of biofuels rather than fossil fuels.  ILUC is addressed in the delegated act through two measures:   one measure sets national limits for the total contribution towards the renewable energy targets for biofuels, bioliquids, and biomass fuels from food or feed crops; and the other measure sets national limits as Member States’ 2019 level for the period 2021-2023.

Tags: EC, Biofuels, ILUC, GHG

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The Maine Technology Institute (MTI) announced on December 14, 2018, a request for proposals (RFP) for Maine’s Forest Resources. Managed by Biobased Maine on behalf of MTI, the RFP for the Emerging Technology Challenge aims to deploy a forest industry technology in Maine, where forest biomass is used in the production of a value-added product for sale. MTI is a “publicly funded, nonprofit corporation with the core mission to diversify and grow Maine’s economy by encouraging, promoting, stimulating, and supporting innovation and its transformation into new products, services and companies, leading to the creation and retention of quality jobs in Maine.” In support of the industrial biotechnology growth across the globe, MTI wishes to ensure that Maine is part of the bioeconomy. Eligible candidates must have submitted information to MTI’s request for information (RFI) in July 2018, and must submit RFP applications by January 25, 2019. MTI will award up to $1.5 million in grants for one or multiple projects. For further information on how to apply, please click here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On December 5, 2018, the United Kingdom (UK) published a policy paper titled “Growing the Bioeconomy, Improving Lives and Strengthening Our Economy: A National Bioeconomy Strategy to 2030.” As the UK strives to double its bioeconomy value by 2030, four main goals are outlined as part of the strategic plan:

  • Capitalize the research, development, and innovation base;
  • Maximize productivity and potential from existing bioeconomy assets;
  • Deliver real, measurable benefits for the UK economy; and
  • Create the right societal and market conditions to allow innovative biobased products and services to thrive.
Emphasizing the need for collaboration, the paper reports that the transformations necessary to achieve these goals will be led by regional and national government agencies, research councils, universities, and industrial leaders. The vision is that in 2030 the UK will be the global leader in developing, manufacturing, using, and exporting biobased solutions. The outlined strategy takes into account the global challenges facing the world right now and how the bioeconomy can play a critical role in addressing them. The intention is for a new government group to be created in support of the strategy and its related activities.
Tags: UK, Bioeconomy

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On November 28, 2018, the European Commission (EC) published a document called “A Clean Planet for all: A European strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy.”  Due to EC’s expressed concerns about climate change, part of this new long-term vision includes new rulings that facilitate the production of bio-fertilizers, encourage the production of biogas from manure treatment, and increase biomass imports.  Emphasizing the crucial role of biomass in a world with a 30 percent higher population in 2050, the report states that “biomass can directly supply heat.  It can be transformed into biofuels and biogas and when cleaned can be transported through the gas grid substituting natural gas … And it can substitute for carbon intensive materials, particularly in the building sector but also through new and sustainable bio-based products such as biochemicals.”  The report also analyzes the economic and social impacts of these new rulings, and highlights the critical role of the European Union (EU) in leading a low-carbon transition at the global level.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 30, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., and FDA Deputy Commissioner Anna Abram regarding FDA’s new action plan to advance plant and animal biotechnology innovation.  Aimed at ensuring the safety of plant and animal biotechnology products and avoiding unnecessary barriers to future innovation, the Action Plan focuses on three key priorities:

  1. Advancing public health by promoting innovation;
  2. Strengthening public outreach and communication; and
  3. Increasing engagement with domestic and international partners.

The statement includes an indication that FDA will be seeking public input in the coming year.  Once input is received, the first step in implementing the new action plan will be the adoption of “a comprehensive policy framework for the development and regulatory oversight of animal biotechnology products, including for intentionally genetically altered animals and the food and drug products derived from them.”  According to their statement, this policy framework will be modern and flexible, accompanied by two guidance documents in 2019.  The guidance documents are intended to provide greater clarity on how FDA will be applying regulatory oversight in evaluating risk profiles of various products.  In addition to these elements, the Action Plan also highlights FDA’s commitment to efforts with both national and international partners in fostering efficiency and cooperation.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The European Commission (EC) announced on October 16, 2018, the launch of a new web-based tool called BioWatch. Developed by BIOWAYS, a project funded by the European Union (EU), this new tool expands BIOWAYS’ efforts in raising awareness of biobased products and their social, economic, and environmental benefits. BioWatch consists of “an interactive online platform that provides projects in the bioeconomy sector with a free service to position themselves alongside one another and provide direct access to industry, political stakeholders, the media, and the general public.” Essentially, this tool serves as an “e-library” for biobased research and projects for its members. BIOWAYS is currently recruiting biobased industry research projects to begin building its “e-library.” More information is available on its website.


 

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 11, 2018, the European Commission (EC) released a statement announcing its new action plan for a sustainable bioeconomy in Europe. The new action plan, originally announced by President Juncker and First Vice-President Timmermans in their letter of intent, aims to “improve and scale up the sustainable use of renewable sources to address global and local challenges such as climate change and sustainable development.” In his remarks, EC Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, emphasized the need for systemic changes as key drivers of change for the bioeconomy sector. Renewable and sustainable solutions depend on collaborative efforts by governments and industry stakeholders. Based on this premise, EC’s new strategy focuses on three key objectives that include 14 measures to be taken as early as 2019.  The three objectives are to:

  1. Scale up and strengthen the biobased sectors;
  2. Rapidly deploy bioeconomies across Europe; and
  3. Protect the ecosystem and understand the ecological limitations of the bioeconomy.

​These long- and short-term objectives focus on modernizing the European biobased economy and call for systemic changes that will reduce the large underused biomass and waste potential. The action plan will be further discussed and outlined during a conference with stakeholders, hosted by the EC on October 22, 2018, in Brussels.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

The 5th Biotechnology World Congress has been scheduled to take place in Bangkok, Thailand, from February 13-15, 2019.  The Welcome Letter states that the conference will “feature a variety of lectures in a number of key sessions in biotechnology, including a commercial exhibition and poster sessions” and the sessions given will include “strategic alliances in biotechnology, pharmaceutical biotechnology, medical biotechnology, plant and environmental biotechnology, bioprocess engineering, and industrial biotechnology.”  A list of the speakers and presentations that have already been scheduled is posted.  The event has put out a call for speakers and posters.  The deadline of abstract submissions for lecture and poster presentation is December 31, 2018; more information on how to apply is available online.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 2, 2018, the Trump Administration’s Principal Deputy Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gregory J. Sheehan, reversed an Obama era 2014 policy on the use of biotechnology on wildlife refuges. On July 17, 2014, the Obama Administration issued a memorandum prohibiting the use of genetically modified biotechnology crops to feed wildlife and the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in agricultural practices. This ban was issued in response to lawsuits that claimed the use of toxic pesticides and genetically engineered crops violated environmental laws. The 2014 memorandum declared that the use of these products should be phased out by 2016. In his 2018 memorandum, Sheehan argued that genetically modified crops and bee-killing pesticides are necessary to promulgate maximum production of farming practices in refuges.


 
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