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 May 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued the much-anticipated final Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient (SECURE) rule. 85 Fed. Reg. 29790. The rule is intended to update and modernize USDA’s biotechnology regulations under the Plant Protection Act. The final rule amends the regulations regarding the movement (importation, interstate movement, and environmental release) of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms in response to advances in genetic engineering and APHIS’s understanding of the plant pest risk posed by GE organisms, thereby reducing the regulatory burden for developers of organisms that are unlikely to pose plant pest risks. For more information, please read the full memorandum here.

Tags: USDA, APHIS, SECURE, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On April 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a report titled “Agricultural Biotechnology Annual,” which argues that under any scenario, the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) separation from the EU (Brexit) is unlikely to change policy or trade in genetically engineered (GE) industries. According to the report prepared by USDA’s Jennifer Wilson, given the fact that the EU is the U.K.’s trading partner and has been for many years, the U.K. will retain much of the EU’s food laws in the short to medium term. Although Brexit could potentially change the agricultural biotechnology policy arena, it is not clear yet whether the U.K. will deviate from the European Court of Justice ruling on New Plant Breeding Techniques. Overall, according to Wilson’s summary, it seems that senior U.K. politicians favor simple genome editing techniques. In addition, it would be unlikely that large multinational seed technology companies would invest in commercialization of a GE crop that could only be marketed in the U.K., which is part of the reason that the current landscape for the cultivation and importation of GE products is not expected to change.

Tags: USDA, GE, Brexit

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On March 4, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in collaboration with EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), launched a new initiative called “Feed Your Mind” to help consumers better understand genetically engineered (GE) foods. Consisting of science-based information, the initiative’s features include a wide range of resources designed to teach consumers, health care professionals, and students about what a genetically modified organism (GMO) is, how GMOs are created and grown, the types of crops that can be GE, and to address questions about the health and safety of GMOs. “Feed Your Mind” also includes an explanation of how GMOs are regulated in the United States. Materials available through the initiative include new web content, videos, graphics, fact sheets, and stories, which include historical information on GMOs in agriculture. The initiative is launching in phases, and FDA expects that more resources will become available later in 2020 and 2021, including professional learning series for dietitians and a supplemental science curriculum for high schools. According to the three agencies, the materials available are based on extensive formative research after input from stakeholders and experts in biotechnology, education, and communications.

Tags: FDA, USDA, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On January 17, 2020, the European Union (EU) announced a new innovative project called BIOGEARS that will be funded under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF). The project focuses on the development of biobased gear solutions for the creation of an eco-friendly offshore aquaculture sector using a multitrophic approach and new biobased value chains. With the aim to address the gap of biobased ropes for offshore aquaculture, which is currently manufactured with 100 percent non-recyclable plastics, BIOGEARS will create a biobased value chain under the EU Bioeconomy Strategy framework. The European Bioeconomy Strategy aims to accelerate the deployment of a sustainable and circular European bioeconomy to maximize its contribution towards the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), as well as the Paris Agreement. With the goal of increasing aquaculture marketable products, BIOGEARS uses an Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) approach by integrating seaweed with mussel production. The BIOGEARS project’s intention is to develop biobased ropes that are tough, durable, and fit-for-purpose while still able to biodegrade in shorter time and managed by local composting facilities.

As part of the project, all project partners will participate in a BLUE LAB to enhance cooperation and enable tracking of innovation of the new biobased materials developed. Project coordinator, Leire Arantzamendi, expressed her hopes of boosting more eco-friendly mussel and seaweed production stating that BIOGEARS “will generate three rope prototypes with a highly reduced carbon footprint along the value chain.” The project will focus on the Atlantic Basin.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On January 8, 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of its Energy Storage Grand Challenge (the Grand Challenge). A comprehensive program to accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies, the Grand Challenge builds on the $158 million Advanced Energy Storage Initiative announced in President Trump’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 budget request. U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette states that the Grand Challenge will address the creation and sustainability of U.S. global leadership in energy storage utilization and exports, with a secure and independent manufacturing supply chain. Through a series of research and development (R&D) funding opportunities, prizes, partnerships, and other programs, the Grand Challenge aims to achieve the following goals by 2030:

  • Technology Development -- through the establishment of a comprehensive R&D portfolio;
     
  • Technology Transfer -- through the acceleration of the technology pipeline from research to private-sector adoption;
     
  • Policy and Valuation -- through the development of best models, data, and analysis to inform effective value propositions and use cases for storage technologies;
     
  • Manufacturing and Supply Chain -- through design of new technologies that will strengthen U.S. manufacturing, recyclability, and independence from foreign sources; and
     
  • Workforce -- through training the next generation of American workers to meet 21st century electric grid and energy storage value chain needs.

As its first step in the Grand Challenge, DOE plans on releasing requests for information (RFI) on the key questions and issues the challenge seeks to address in the near future. Also in the coming weeks, DOE intends to host a series of workshops with key stakeholders to share information about various storage technologies, barriers to their deployment, and overcoming these barriers to bring technologies to market.

Tags: DOE, Challenge

 

The Product Stewardship Society (PSS) Board of Directors inducted Lynn L. Bergeson as President during its annual board meeting preceding the Product Stewardship conference being held in Columbus, Ohio, September 10-12, 2019. Ms. Bergeson, Managing Partner of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C. (B&C®), will serve as President through 2021. Ms. Bergeson has served on the PSS Board of Directors since 2015.

PSS is an affiliate of the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA®), launched in 2012 to drive the product stewardship profession forward by providing resources, professional development, and networking opportunities that serve the needs of professionals globally. PSS and AIHA announced in late 2018 the joint development of an ANSI-certified product stewardship credential, and progress toward the launch of the test-based credential continues in 2019. PSS recently published Professional Practices of Product Stewardship, a first-of-its-kind textbook providing deep insight into core areas of product stewardship, including product risk management, product life cycle management, management of product compliance and liability, and product stewardship strategy and program management. Other PSS publications include Realizing the Full Business Value of Product Stewardship, for which Ms. Bergeson authored the chapter “Legal Considerations Relating to Tort and Product Liability Law,” and Core Competencies for the Product Stewardship Professional. All publications are available on the PSS website.

Lynn L. Bergeson is also Vice Chair of the International Bar Association (IBA) Agricultural Law Section, Vice Chair of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources Committee on Pesticides, Chemical Regulation, and Right-to-Know, and a former Chair of the ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources. Ms. Bergeson is consistently recognized among the elite practitioners of chemical regulatory law by Best Lawyers, Super Lawyers, and The Washingtonian, among others. Chambers and Partners USA 2019 edition, where she was ranked Band 1, notes Ms. Bergeson’s “stellar reputation in the environment space”and quotes clients as saying: “If you need advice in the chemical regulatory arena, there is no better choice than Lynn.”Ms. Bergeson is also President of The Acta Group (Acta®), B&C’s scientific and regulatory consulting arm with offices in Washington, D.C., the United Kingdom, and Belgium, and President of B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C. (BCCM), which helps the chemical industry form consortia to achieve shared research, testing, and regulatory goals.

Tags: PSS, Bergeson

 

On September 11, 2019, from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. (EDT), the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) will host a webinar titled “Genetic Engineering: The Good, The Bad, and The Necessary.” The webinar is designed to cover the vast possibilities offered by genetic engineering in a world where regulatory officials face increasing pressure to guarantee global food security. Along with the many possibilities associated with genetic engineering, however, there are great concerns about the environmental, health, and ethical implications of it. Webinar panelists will discuss many of these possibilities and concerns.

Tags: ELI, GE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On August 15, 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced approximately $40 million in funding for 29 projects to advance the H2@Scale concept.  H2@Scale is a concept that explores the potential for wide-scale hydrogen production and utilization in the United States to enable resiliency of the power generation and transmission sectors while also aligning diverse domestic industries, competitiveness, and job creation. Funded through DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and the Office of Nuclear Energy, the 29 selected projects will advance hydrogen storage and infrastructure technologies.

Tags: DOE, Hydrogen, EERE

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson and Ligia Duarte Botelho, M.A.

On May 30, 2019, DOE also announced the release of GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet, an analysis on how the U.S. can benefit from the potential of geothermal energy. The report summarizes findings that show geothermal electricity generation could increase more than 26-fold from today. Geothermal energy has the potential to reach 60 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity (a 6GW growth) by 2050, including the provision of heating and cooling solutions for residential and commercial consumers through direct-use and heat-pump technologies. U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, stated that “[m]aking geothermal more affordable can increase our energy options for a more diverse electricity generation mix […].” Industry experts, academia, DOE’s National Laboratories, and federal agencies assessed opportunities to expand geothermal energy deployment through 2050 via technology improvement, cost reduction, and reduction of project development barriers such as long permitting timelines. The GeoVision report also includes the analysis of economic benefits to the U.S. geothermal energy sector, and an investigation of opportunities for desalination, mineral recovery, and hybridization with other energy technologies for greater efficiencies and lower costs. Additionally, the report quantified potential environmental impacts of an increased deployment of geothermal energy. A roadmap of action items for stakeholders is also included, outlining three key objectives to:

  • Increase access to geothermal resources;
     
  • Reduce costs and improve economics for geothermal projects; and
     
  • Improve education.

These GeoVision objectives are to be met through four key Action Areas: (1) Research Related to Resource Assessments, Improved Site Characterization, and Key Technology Advancements; (2) Regulatory Process Optimization; (3) Maximizing the Full Value of Geothermal Energy; and, (4) Improved Stakeholder Collaboration. For further details, the full report can be accessed here.


 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On June 3, 2019, DOE announced a joint Call for Proposals for an opportunity to win $2 million in available funding for the advancement of geothermal research and development (R&D) through a partnership with more than 12 European countries. DOE is a member of a transnational consortium called GEOTHERMICA, which combines financial resources and research expertise to demonstrate and validate new concepts in geothermal energy use. The U.S. geothermal community will have the ability to collaborate directly with European partners on shared research projects that leverage valuable data, field site access, and expertise in geothermal R&D. In addition to the U.S., Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, and Turkey are members of GEOTHERMICA. Each participating country will fund applicants originating within its national boundary. U.S. funding will be provided through the DOE National Laboratories. The Call for Proposals can be accessed here.


 
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