ITC releases biotechnology report

By Anna Austin
Web exclusive posted July 17, 2008 at 3:20 p.m. CST

The U.S. International Trade Commission, an independent, nonpartisan, fact-finding federal agency, released a report on July 15 which analyzed innovation and research effects on the development and future productivity of U.S. biotechnology. The 182-page research report, titled "Industrial Biotechnology: Development and Adoption by the U.S. Chemical and Biofuel Industries," was completed in response to a November 2006 request from the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance in order to:

  • Describe and compare government policies in the U.S. and key competitor countries throughout the world relating to the development of these products.

  • Analyze the extent of business activity in these industries related to trends in production, financial performance, investment, research and development, as well as impediments to development and trade.

  • Examine factors affecting the development of biobased products.

  • Determine how the adoption of industrial biotechnology (IB) processing and products impact the productivity and competitiveness of firms in these industries.

"IB development may result in the creation of innovative products or processes," the report stated. "All measures of innovation increased during the 2004�2007 period, including research and development expenditures, patent and trademark activity, strategic alliances, and government grants."

The ITC related the growth of biotechnology to industries that are increasing use of enzymes, micro-organisms and renewable resources in the production of fuels and chemicals. "IB has the potential to lower production costs, create sustainable production processes, and reduce the environmental impact of producing and using fuels and chemicals," the report said.

In regard to government mandates regarding biofuels, the commission found that mandates are essential in furthering the development of the IB industry. "Government incentives and mandates are significant and have been vital to the growth and development of many of the companies that rely on IB, particularly for the liquid biofuels industry," said the ITC. "Innovation is important to the future competitiveness and productivity of U.S. firms."

ITC also came to the conclusion that IB has the potential to benefit the U.S. economy "by allowing for the substitution of liquid biofuels for conventional liquid fuels, potentially reducing crude petroleum imports, and stimulating the development of rural economies as a result of increased agricultural feedstock consumption."

A copy of the report is available online at