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National biotech conference will discuss biofuels and biopolymers

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Written Tuesday, May 20, 2008  

The nation’s agricultural biotechnology experts will convene in Ohio June 3-5 to discuss the role this industry will play in the future of renewable fuels, energy and industrial products.

Ohio State University's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARDC) is hosting the 20th annual meeting of the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council (NABC), to be held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Columbus.

Reshaping American agriculture to meet its biofuel and biopolymer needs, is much more than a catchy theme — it’s a realization of the crucial juncture America’s top industry is facing and its call to be a leader, quite literally, in the powering, fueling and manufacturing of the country’s future.

“Located on the eastern edge of the Corn Belt, home to more than 11 million people and with agriculture as its No. 1 industry, Ohio exemplifies the changes reflected in the conference theme,” said Steve Slack, OARDC director and NABC 20 program chair. “The conference will examine the trends that are developing as agriculture expands its role and the policies that impact these changes.

“It will also consider the potential consequences of using crops as renewable energy resources and the effectiveness of approaches for deriving value from generated co-products.”

The conference will be divided in four modules, each addressing a critical issue where agriculture and the bioeconomy intersect: Megatrends reshaping American agriculture, optimizing the value of co-products/by-products, enhancing productivity of biofeedstocks and policy issues impacting agriculture and bioenergy.

For each module, keynote speakers and response panelists will present different viewpoints on the topic, and all attendees will have an opportunity to participate in small group discussions.

Another goal of the conference, Slack said, is to build on the synergism between Ohio’s food and agricultural sector (worth $93 billion annually) and its $50 billion a year polymer industry — which is linked to a diverse supply chain of manufacturing and industries, including national leadership positions in paints, adhesives, rubber and detergents. That’s why Polymer Ohio Inc., an organization representing the state’s polymer industry, will hold its biennial Polymer Summit at the same time and location as NABC 20, enabling leverage of overlapping themes.

Formed in 1988, NABC is a not-for-profit consortium of 34 leading agricultural research and teaching governmental agencies/institutions/universities in the United States and Canada that provides all stakeholders the opportunity to speak, listen and learn about the issues surrounding agricultural biotechnology. Since its formation, NABC has been hosting annual public meetings about the safe, ethical and efficacious development of agricultural biotechnology products.

For more information about the conference and to register, go to http://www.oardc.osu.edu/nabc20 ; or contact Mary Wicks at (330) 202-3533, wicks.14@osu.edu .

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