Not All Chemicals Are Created Equal™

Got Milk? Got $7?

December 17th, 2013 | Posted by in Policy - (0 Comments)

Among other things, I have the title here of Senior Vice President, Government Affairs. That means, I have the pleasure, frustration, optimism, impatience, anticipation and angst of following bills and policies coming in and out of Washington, DC, that could affect the biochemical industry. Few things for me have been as amusing, aggravating, anxious, appalling, interesting as the agonizing Farm Bill negotiations in Congress.

Various reports now speculate a new Farm Bill could be approved in January. Updates seem to come daily from media representatives trying to calculate progress from the facial expressions of committee members exiting a negotiating session. Dire consequences continue to be identified should a new bill fail to emerge. One of the most recent of these is this item: Milk for $7 a gallon? Farm bill impasse could send US off ‘dairy cliff.’

To further abuse an already tortured pun, I think the prospect of $7 per gallon of milk is udderly ridiculous. In any event, stay tuned. It does look like progress is being made, with most pundits saying the House and Senate could pass a bill in early January when Congress returns from its recess.

Courtesy of ICIS, which reports to be the world’s largest petrochemical market information provider, an update is available about progress being made in Europe to further accelerate industrial biotechnology and the bio-based products sector. Their story, entitled Market outlook: Industrial biotechnology moves up a gear, centers on evolving public-private partnerships, about which we blogged earlier, as well as issues unique to Europe: feedstock availability and policy issues that cross environment, transport and energy interests. For this alone the article is well worth a careful read. But it also delves into the term, definition, and implications of so-called ‘white biotechnology,’ and spotlights feedstock and fiscal challenges as well as a variety of other critical factors.

Two lines in the story, however, really caught my attention for their simplicity and obvious truth: Since the industrial revolution economic growth has risen in tandem with an increasing burden on the environment. Industrial biotechnology breaks this cycle by re-thinking traditional industrial processes.

Here’s an opportunity to download a 450-page book about a topic not everyone yet realizes is true. Plastics from bacteria? Really? Yes, really. We’re doing it; others are doing it; strong global markets and a growing consumer demand worldwide are developing quickly and driving innovation. Thus, this new volume: Plastics from Bacteria: Natural Functions and Applications Book.

In this new overview, among other things, succinic acid and its polymer polybutylene succinate (PBS) are discussed. One caveat: I haven’t yet attempted the download and so can’t vouch for the quality of the book’s content. If you opt to read it and have a review of it for us, please forward your comment here.

If you’re not familiar with this information resource, you’ll want to check it out. That link takes you to a PubChem page which presents a ton of information about succinic acid, our flagship product to date.  Think Wikipedia, but with a significantly higher IQ. It’s a service of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) which is a division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Among other things, it provides access to biomedical and genomic information.

My only issue is that the site does not as yet include Myriant in its list of chemical vendors. But we’ll work on that.

There must be something in the water around here? On Saturday the Boston Bruins served up an away game 5 to 0 shutout. That same evening the Red Sox gave Detroit a lesson in Adroit, winning the 6th and deciding game of the American League Championship Series. Obviously they feared the beard. All this while Boston hosted the world’s biggest two-day rowing event, the Head of the Charles, under perfect autumn skies. Seriously, does it ever get any better than this?

Congratulations Sox, and best wishes for the opening game of the World Series this Wednesday at friendly Fenway against the Cards. Like Boston itself, you’re a spectacular, gritty, strong and persistent symbol of what it means to carry on, never quit, and believe in yourself!