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.

On May 28, 2014, policy researchers from the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), the University of Virginia, and EMBO released a report on challenges faced by regulators with the increased use of more sophisticated synthetic biology technologies to engineer plants and microbes. According to the press release on the report, "[t]he authors conclude that while the United States governmental agencies tasked with oversight of products derived through synthetic biology have adequate legal jurisdiction to address most, but not all, environmental, health and safety concerns, several key issues could challenge these agencies including: the advent of newer plant engineering technologies that are outside the authority of some agencies, and increased use of more complex engineered microbes that could overwhelm regulators both from a science and safety review and increasing cost perspective." A copy of the press release on the report issued by JCVI is available online. A copy of the full report is available at online.

On May 29, 2014, the Woodrow Wilson Center's Synthetic Biology Project and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology released a report entitled "Creating a Research Agenda for the Ecological Implications of Synthetic Biology." The report suggests key research areas for government agencies, including species for comparative research; phenotypic characterization; fitness, genome stability and lateral gene transfer; control of organismal traits; monitoring and surveillance; modeling; and standardization of methods and data. A copy of the press release on the report is available online. A copy of the full report is available online.


Georgia Tech has announced that it is renaming its Institute of Paper Science and Technology the Renewable Bioproducts Institute (RBI). According to the announcement, the school has committed to doing the following to further the Institute:

* Recruit at least one new tenure track professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry with relevant bioproducts experience to join more than 40 Georgia Tech faculty now working with RBI.

* Recruit a new tenure track professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering to contribute to the educational and research mission of the RBI.

* Recruit a professor of the practice with relevant industrial experience to work at the academic and research interface between industry and the RBI.

* Invest significant capital funds to expand and repurpose core lab facilities in the existing IPST building to better align with the expanded research focus areas of biorefining, biopolymers, and new materials.

* Draw on the full range of Georgia Tech's many industrial and political relationships to help promote and capture the opportunities in the bioproducts area.

A copy of Georgia Tech's press release on the announcement is available online.


On May 19, 2014, two U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) notices were published in the Federal Register. The first is a notice of an open meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee (Committee). The Committee advises DOE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the Biomass Research and Development Initiative (BRDI) and priority technical biomass research and development (R&D) needs, and makes recommendations to the Biomass Research and Development Board. The meeting is scheduled to take place on June 5, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., and June 6, 2014, from 8:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. at the Omni Shoreham, 2500 Calvert Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008. A copy of the notice is available online.

To attend the meeting and/or to make oral statements regarding any of the items on the agenda below, you must contact Elliott Levine at 202-586-1476 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and Roy Tiley at 410-997-7778 ext. 220 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at least five business days prior to the meeting.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide advice and guidance that promotes R&D leading to the production of biobased fuels and biobased products. The agenda is expected to include the following:

* Update on USDA Biomass R&D Activities;

* Update on DOE Biomass R&D Activities;

* Update on the BRDI;

* Update on the DOE Loan Program Solicitations;

* Update on the BioEconomy Initiative;

* Overview of the BioEconomy Initiative Analysis;

* Feedstocks panel on fuels from corn stover; and

* An overview and application of the USDA Feedstock Readiness Level Tool.

The second notice is a solicitation for nominations for candidates to fill vacancies on the Committee. Nominations must be submitted by June 9, 2014. A detailed description of the Committee and the nomination process is provided in the notice, which is available online.

By law, the Committee must include, among others, an individual affiliated with the biofuels industry and an individual affiliated with the biobased industrial and commercial products industry. According to the notice, while nominations will be accepted for other categories, nominations this year are needed for the following categories in order to address the Committee's needs: (E) an individual affiliated with a commodity trade association; (F) individuals affiliated with environmental or conservation organizations; (J) an individual with expertise in agricultural economics; (K) an individual with expertise in plant biology and biomass feedstock development; and (M) at the option of the points of contact, other members.


On May 6, 2014, the National Research Council (NRC) released a Congressionally mandated, EPA-sponsored report finding that EPA has made "substantial improvements" to its Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) since 2011. While the report acknowledges these improvements, it provides recommendations for further IRIS enhancements. For instance, according to the National Academies' press release on the report, "to ensure that the IRIS program provides the best assessments possible, the committee recommended that EPA develop a plan for strategically updating its methodology, systematically addressing any identified inefficiencies, and continually evaluating whether the IRIS teams have the appropriate expertise and training."

The National Academies' press release is available online. The EPA press release on the report is available online. The report is available for purchase or can be read online.


This week, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP), a collaboration of 13 federal agencies and myriad academia, issued its third National Climate Assessment. The 841 page report and a summary of its highlights are available online.

This report is significant because compared to previous reports it more definitively attributes human activity as the cause of increased climate change, which is causing more severe weather. The report asserts that climate change is here now and will have more and more devastating impacts throughout the country. It is not a future event. Additionally, it more strongly links climate change to severe weather.

The Administration reportedly is hopeful that the report will help motivate action on climate change. It may be working to some extent as two prominent Republicans -- former Utah Governor and Presidential Candidate John Huntsman, and Lee Thomas, an EPA Administrator under the Regan Administration -- authored op-eds published on May 7, 2014, urging Republicans to accept climate change and offer leadership on the issue.


The EU has launched a new four-year research project called Bio-Qed, which will focus on developing biobased chemicals from renewable sources. The project has ten partners from Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, Croatia, and Spain.


On February 20, 2014, Lux Research released a new report, "Cultivating Capacity for Bio-Based Materials and Chemicals Through 2017." According to the report, the U.S. is on track to become the leader in global biobased materials and chemicals by 2017, with production expected to double between now and then. First generation feedstocks are expected to remain the main source of biobased feedstocks by 2017.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has awarded more than $3 million in funding to four research institutions to study how chemicals behave when they come into contact with biological systems. The projects will focus on developing better models that predict the connection between exposures to chemicals and the chain of events that lead to an unwanted health effect. The results are expected to assist EPA in its mission to protect human health and the environment, to inform and impact EPA's chemical safety research, and to develop solutions for more sustainable chemicals and use computational science to understand the relationship between chemical exposures and health outcomes. A copy of EPA's press release is available online.


On February 5, 2014, Purdue University announced that three researchers in the University's colleges of Engineering and Science received more than $130,000 from the Trask Innovation Fund to develop their work. One of these researchers was awarded $50,000 for "Selective Catalysis for the Production of High Value Flavor and Fragrance Chemicals from Wood Biomass." A copy of Purdue University's press release is available online.


On October 28, 2013, DuPont announced the start of the second phase of its China Research and Development Center. The Center will focus on the development of biobased materials, among other things. A copy of DuPont's press release on the announcement is available online.

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