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National Biobased Products Day reminds us of the importance of biotech – Bio.News

National Biobased Products Day (NBPD) is March 8. The initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) BioPreferred® Program highlights the importance of biotech and biobased products and their role in the American economy.

Embracing biobased products provides many benefits to both the environment and the economy, as they are cost-comparative while increasing renewable resource use.

Switching to biobased products can help reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, compostable biobased items help boost soil health and water quality, the Plant Based Products Council wrote in a report.

“When you look at the many ways in which biotech companies are rising to the challenge of reducing and mitigating climate impacts, such as developing crop traits and plant-based materials to replace fossil resources, there is no question that biotech is ‘climate tech,’” says Beth Ellikidis, VP for Agriculture and Environment at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).

The USDA said NBPD aims to “bring attention to the great work being done to improve sustainability, reduce our reliance on petroleum-based products, and benefit rural communities.”

Paving the way to a sustainable future

The USDA introduced the BioPreferred Program under the 2002 Farm Bill. The program was expanded in the 2014 Farm Bill. Since Dec. 2015, more than 2,500 products in 100 different product categories have been certified “biobased.”

To help boost biobased manufacturing and enhance the use of renewable resources, in 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the USDA plans for a $10 million investment in agriculture. This investment was part of a $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Bioproduct Pilot Program, aiming to lower carbon biomanufacturing.

“This program will help farmers take field residues and waste products and turn them into value-added products that create wealth and drive economic development in rural areas,” said Secretary Vilsack, who announced the program at a farm in Iowa.

Biotech and biomanufacturing are growing in popularity

A recent poll conducted by Morning Consult for BIO revealed that a large chunk of Americans have a positive outlook when it comes to biotech being a solution to the climate crisis.

As Bio.News previously reported, “The American public is generally confident that the biotechnology industry will play a positive role in promoting food security (78%) and public health (75%) in the face of climate change. Federal policymakers should prioritize incentives for biotech companies to devote resources to solving the challenges brought by climate change, according to 66% of the respondents.”

Biotech innovations seem to receive an increased appreciation for how they contribute and provide sustainable solutions to climate challenges—from bioengineered crops designed to endure harsh weather conditions and superpests to biofuels that slash carbon emissions in the atmosphere.

How fashion is utilizing biomanufacturing

As one of the main polluters, the fashion industry has been the target of criticism for a while now. But some industry leaders are making more sustainable choices and incorporating biobased products.

Biotech fashion is on the rise, with textiles developed from alternative natural sources like algae or fungi. Bio.News also reported that SmartFiber, a company based in Germany, recently designed a seaweed-infused cellulose fiber containing 19% seaweed content referred to as SeaCell fiber that “has limitless applications in textiles…for a broad spectrum of uses in sports and leisure textiles—from underwear and loungewear to soft furnishings.”

BASF x Inditex is another great example of collaboration toward clean(er) fashion, resulting in a new, breakthrough material that boosts recycling efforts in the textile industry. “Following a ‘design for recycling’ approach, all parts, including fabrics, buttons, filling, hook and loop and zipper are made from loopamid,” BASF said in a statement.

The two companies trademarked loopamid®, which is a type of polyamide (also known as nylon) and is made entirely from recycled textiles. ZARA, a retail brand under Inditex, has already released a jacket using loopamid, which is available worldwide.