Senate Hearing Focuses on Biobased Product Potential for Rural Job Creation

Biofuels & Climate Change

The Senate Agriculture Committee today held a hearing on “Growing Jobs in Rural America” (watch the webcast). Dr. Marc Verbruggen, President and CEO of NatureWorks LLC based in Wayzata, Minn., and Dr. Oliver P. Peoples, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Metabolix, Inc. based in Cambridge, Mass., both BIO members, testified about their companies’ plans for growth and job creation.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), chair of the committee, “called the rural economy a bright spot and underscored the potential for a manufacturing boom in the bio-based sector – where innovators and entrepreneurs are processing American grown agriculture products for use in manufactured goods and displacing the need for foreign petroleum.”

In his testimony, Verbruggen specifically called out a report from BIO that shows biobased production “could help create over 237,000 direct US jobs in thesustainable chemistry sector, and help improve the balance of trade in the chemical sector. High value bioproducts could help turn around the job loss in the US chemicals industry.”

Modular Genetics contributed a written statement, noting industrial biotechnology’s ability to create jobs and economic growth. DuPont also submitted testimony to the hearing, noting that it’s biobased production system won a Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award in 2003 for Greener Reaction Conditions. In fact, many BIO members have received these awards, and many more are producing chemicals and food ingredients that are inherently greener. Metabolix won a Presidential Green Chemistry award in 2005. NatureWorks received one in 2002. Most recently, in 2011, BIO member companies Genomatica and BioAmber won awards. (See BioAmber’s short video.)

The job potential, particularly in rural America, from these innovations continues to grow. In response to a direct question from Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Dr. Verbruggen highlighted the potential benefit of a biobased production tax credit to encourage additional investment and job growth.

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