Plant selection, feedstock critical to commercialising energy crops

23 April 2013 20:17  [Source: ICIS news]

CHICAGO (ICIS)--Product considerations can impact the commercialisation of transgenic technologies in energy crops, an executive of a US-based biotechnology developer said on Tuesday.

“For most grades, this is obviously selected way up front – it’s not a subsequent decision – but it largely dictates what you’re going to grow,” said Michael Raab, president of Agrivida.

“For technologies that have to be used for multiple crops, it could be a really critical decision on how quickly you can get into the market,” he said at the Bio International Convention.

Crop selection partially defines the value chain and the level of integration, and the trait technology must create value to motivate its use and participation by everyone in the value chain, Raab said.

The energy crop must be competitive with other crop alternatives, and it is essential to maintain competitive yields to target growing regions, he added.

However, unlike existing grain crops, energy crops could be annuals, such as corn and sorghum that survive for one growing season, or perennials, such as sugarcane or switchgrass that live for two years, he said.

“Once you made that [crop selection], it’s also going to dictate what germplasm feedstocks you have,” Raab said.

When selecting germplasm options, whether they are seeds or plants parts from which the crop would be grown, it is important to consider the geographic locations of the intended or existing processing facilities, he said.

“Crop selection and germplasm access are critical decisions that define the commercialisation pathway [of energy crops],” Raab concluded.

The Bio International Convention runs through Wednesday.

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By: Tracy Dang
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