Members and friends of Virginia Bio,
On Wednesday, September 9, we are helping to mount the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural and Industrial Bio, in Danville at the impressive Institute for Advanced Learning and Research.
For the first time ever in Virginia, we’ll gather the companies, researchers and members of the agricultural community working in this rapidly growing high value sector where hi-tech meets Virginia’s largest private industry.
Agricultural and Industrial biotechnology is enabling the world to feed its growing populations and supply fuel and materials to its growing economies in an affordable, sustainable and environmentally sound manner. At the end of this letter, I provide a snapshot of field for those who are unaware.
This rapidly growing sector provides an opportunity to add new hi-tech strength to a pillar of Virginia’s economy. In turn this will strengthen the state’s traditional biomedical biotech industry because of the commonality of skills, talents, resources, supplies, equipment and services required to succeed in R&D and commercialization.
Thanks to generous sponsors, the event is free of charge.
It’s a great agenda on September 9, which will enable attendees to learn in one day, in one place what’s going on in the industry in Virginia, to meet the key players, to better understand the opportunities, to assess public policy and start to think about moving forward.
- In a morning and afternoon lightning round, we’ll hear from ten companies, large to small from all across Virginia working across many different areas of ag/ind bio, and we’ll hear from ten researchers from universities and private institutions doing exciting and promising work across the field.
- We’ll hear from Paul Ulanch, Ph.D., MBA, Executive Director, Biotechnology Crop Commercialization Center, with our friends at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center some of the steps they’ve taken in the last five years to become one of the top ag bio centers in the US, and opportunities to collaborate.
- A panel of federal, state and private funders will explore opportunities to fund commercial efforts in this field.
- We’ll hear from Shawn Semones Ph.D., Director of Applied Discovery Research & Development, Salem Virginia Site Lead, Novozymes North America, Inc., one of the world’s leading ag bio companies, on the company’s work, outlook and trends.
- Top state policy makers, including Governor Terry McAuliffe, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, and Delegate Steve Landes will share ideas on the state’s role in supporting the development of the industry.
I look forward to seeing you there! Click here to register now for this important event.
Agricultural biotechnology is a rapidly expanding, broad and dynamic industry that applies a range of advanced biotechnology tools, such as genetic engineering, to improve plants and animals, to develop microorganisms for specific agricultural uses, to make agriculture more efficient, sustainable and profitable, and to improve food quality and safety.
Biotechnology can engineer crops to tolerate specific herbicides, making weed control simpler and more efficient, and to be resistant to specific diseases and pests, improving control and decreasing the use of synthetic herbicides and pesticides. Crops with the ability to grow in salty soils or better withstand drought conditions are entering the marketplace. These require less fuel, labor, fertilizer, and water, decreasing pressures on land and wildlife habitats.
Biotechnology creates improved foods, by increasing certain components such as vitamins and other nutrients, and reducing levels of others, such as naturally occurring toxicants, allergens, or saturated fats.
US farmers have rapidly adopted many of these new varieties: 88% of the corn, 94% of the cotton and 93% of the soybeans planted in the U.S. were varieties produced through genetic engineering. Use is spreading globally as well, helping countries keep pace with demand for food while reducing costs.
Genetically engineered bacteria and yeasts produce vitamins and nutritional supplements for human food, and improve the production of fermented beverages and foods.
Biotechnology advances improve animal food, and enable animals to more effectively use nutrients present in feed, and produce new vaccines, diagnostics and treatments for animal disease, and additional markets for animal products.
Biotechnology provides a wealth of tools improving the safety of our food supply chain.
Industrial biotechnology applies biotechnology tools to traditional industrial processes (“bioprocessing”) and the manufacturing of products (such as fuels, chemicals and plastics) from bio-based renewable feedstocks.
New and more valuable sources of biomass, and new more efficient methods of bioprocessing, are being developed continually. Current commercial products include bio-based plastics with applications ranging from cosmetics, home cleaning products and antifreeze to food packaging and car parts, and chemicals used in the production of detergents, textiles, pulp and paper, leather, metals, fuels and minerals.
There is rapid innovation in renewable chemicals, frequently co-produced as side streams of biofuels and bioenergy, providing new intermediates, novel products, or direct replacements for petroleum products.
Genetically engineered crops can serve as factories for the production of a wide array of chemicals, including new medicines.