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Industrial Biotechnology: Designing the new bio-based supply chain of the future

In the recent issue of Industrial Biotechnology, Jay Golden and I published a set of insights related to the challenges that exist as part of the industrial biobased economy.

As part of the reauthorization of the 2014 Farm Bill, we were tasked to undertake an analysis to address these gaps and report our findings to Congress.  Specifically, Congress required answers to the following six questions: 1) Quantity of biobased products sold 2) Value of the biobased products 3) Quantity of jobs created 4) Quantity of petroleum displaced 5) Other environmental benefits 6) Areas in which the use or manufacturing of biobased products could be applied or distributed more effectively, including identifying any technical and economic obstacles and recommending how those obstacles could be overcome. That work culminated in the recently released report, ‘‘An Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry: A Report to the Congress of the United States of America’’  which sought to identify key challenges that will be need to be addressed to create the new biobased supply chain of the future.

Several key insights emerged which we discuss in our article:

Insight #1: The Industry Requires Improved Product Data Codes and a Reliable Tracking System

Insight #2: A Lack of Financing, Capital, and Tax Incentives Is Restraining Sectorial Growth & Job Creation

Insight #3: The USDA BioPreferred Label Can Gain Even Greater Utility with Industry

Insight #4: The BioProducts Sector Benefits a Much Broader Segment of America

Insight #5: The Industry Would Benefit from a Research-Oriented Consortium

Insight #6: The USDA Should Expand the Reporting on the Economic Impacts of the BioProducts Industry

Insight #7: The Federal Government Can Do More in Purchasing Bioproducts

Insight #8: The Industry Needs Congress to Appropriate Funds Already Authorized

Insight #9: Successful Technology Development Depends on Improved Execution and Business Fundamentals

These issues provide important guidelines for both industry an government to think about.  Our work in this area is proceeding to continue to drive more insights into how to move forward…