U.S. Seeks Support for Agriculture Research; Developments Show Promise for Biotechnology, Reductions in Pollution
Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an initiative this week that is supposed to improve the nation's agricultural research, possibly including development of new products based on plants and bacteria.
So far, the products have included plastics, detergents, fabrics and sugars. Investors are hoping industrial biotechnology will rejuvenate the technology sector of the economy.
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced appointments to a new Research, Education and Economics Task Force. The task force is assigned to evaluate possibilities for establishing a new national institute to study a variety of food and agricultural issues, including industrial biotechnology.
Some industrial biotech products already are showing up on retail shelves and in industrial inventories.
Yesterday, the Washington-based Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) presented Wall Street investors with the financial opportunities of biotech at the New York Academy of Sciences.
Industrial biotechnology - in its infancy now - is likely to be worth $100 billion by 2010, according to McKinsey & Co., a financial consulting firm.
"This first-ever industrial biotech briefing for the financial community is a watershed event that signals some real reasons to be optimistic about this technology and its role in economic development," said Brent Erickson, BIO vice president.
One example of industrial biotechnology efforts is Nutramax Laboratories in Edgewood, Md., a company that uses amino acids and other biological agents to develop dietary supplements.
"This company has grown in 10 years from a small company to one of the leaders in the dietary supplement industry," said Paul Deblinger, Nutramax spokesman. …