D budget to €750 million to meet challenges of the bioeconomy <body> --------------
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    GreenField Ethanol and Monsanto Canada launch the 'Gro-ethanol' program which invites Ontario's farmers to grow corn seed containing Monsanto traits, specifically for the ethanol market. The corn hybrids eligible for the program include Monsanto traits that produce higher yielding corn for ethanol production. MarketWire - September 11, 2007.

    Ethanol Statistics, a new industry information resource, reports that U.S. petroleum refiners Citgo and Valero are the top 2 ethanol importing companies in the United States in the first 6 months of 2007. Overall imports were up 7.64% compared to the same period in 2006, from 193,620 gallons to 208,404 gallons. Chevron imported 43% less, whereas Noble and ConocoPhilips' imports were up 255% and 372% respectively. Data are reported in 'The United States Ethanol Market 2007’, which also provides a breakdown of U.S. ethanol production costs and a detailed analysis of U.S. consumption and production. Ethanol Statistics - September 10, 2007.

    The government of British Columbia launches a $100,000 study into the production of biogas, heat, power and clean water from household waste streams. Raw sewage water can be cleaned by microbial fuel cells that deliver electricity as they clean the water; other technologies include classic anaerobic fermentation. Canada.com - September 10, 2007.

    Saudi Aramco in its Annual Review 2006 said that last year the company's crude oil production declined by 1.7 percent, while exports declined by 3.1 percent, compared with the previous year. Crude oil production in 2006 averaged 8.9 million barrels of oil a day (b/d) and exports 6.9 million b/d. Saudi Aramco - September 9, 2007.

    Chinese packaging manufacturer Livan Biodegradable Product Co. Ltd. will build plants in Alsozsolca and Edeleny in eastern Hungary at a combined cost of €18 million by 2009, the Hungarian economics ministry says. The plants, which will employ 800 people, are planned to produce initially 50, 000 metric tons a year of environmentally-friendly packaging material, and double that amount by a later date. Livan will use corn to manufacture biodegradable packaging boxes with similar properties to petroleum-based plastic boxes used in the food industry. Dow Jones Newswires - September 7, 2007.

    South Korea aims to raise biodiesel content in domestic diesel to 3 percent from the current 0.5 percent by 2012, Seoul's energy ministry said today. The government was initially set last year to impose a mandatory 5 percent blend, in line with the level targeted by the European Union by 2010, but the country's powerful refining lobby opposed the move, forcing it to push back the target, according to market sources. Reuters - September 7, 2007.

    Virent Energy Systems, Inc. announced today that it has closed a US$21 million second round of venture financing. Investor interest in Virent was driven in large part by the Company’s continued development of its innovative BioForming process beyond its traditional hydrogen and fuel gas applications and toward the production of bio-based gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels. Virent Energy Systems - September 6, 2007.

    The U.S. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition (NEVC) announces that 31 models of motor vehicles will be offered in the U.S. with an E85 capable engine in 2008. Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Mercedes Benz will all offer flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs) in the coming year. The NEVC expects 750,000 such FFVs will be produced in 2008. National Ethanol Vehicle Coalition - September 5, 2007.

    GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008. PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.

    GreenHunter BioFuels, Inc., has begun commercial operations with the start-up of a 1,500 barrel per day methanol distillation system. Methanol is an alcohol used to transesterify vegetable oils into biodiesel. The methanol production facility is a key element of GreenHunter's 105 million gallon per year biodiesel refinery, the largest in the U.S., slated for initial operations during the first quarter of 2008. PRNewswire - September 5, 2007.

    Spanish renewables group Abengoa released its results for the first half of 2007 financial year in which its consolidated sales were €1,393.6 million, which is a 27.9 percent increase on the previous year. Earnings after tax were €54.9 million, an 18.6 percent increase on the previous year's figure of 46.3 million euro. Abengoa is active in the bioenergy, solar and environmental services sector. Abengoa - September 4, 2007.

    Canadian hydro power developer Run of River Power Inc. has reached an agreement to buy privately owned Western Biomass Power Corp. in a $2.2 million share swap deal that could help finance development of new green sources of electricity in British Columbia. The Canadian Press - September 4, 2007.

    As of Sept. 1, a biodiesel blending mandate has come into force in the Czech Republic, requiring diesel suppliers to mix 2 per cent biodiesel into the fuel. The same rule will be obligatory for gasoline starting next year. In 2009 the biofuel ratio will grow to 3.5 percent in gasoline and 4.5 percent in diesel oil. CBW - September 3, 2007.

    Budapest's first biofuel station opens on Monday near the Pesterzsébet (District XX) Tesco hypermarket. This is the third station selling the E85 fuel containing bioethanol in Hungary, as two other stations are encouraging eco-friendly driving in Bábolna and Győr. Caboodle - September 3, 2007.

    Canadian forest products company Tembec announced that it has completed the acquisition of the assets of Chapleau Cogeneration Limited located in Chapleau, Ontario. The transaction includes a biomass fired boiler and steam turbine with an installed capacity of 7.2 megawatts. Consideration for the assets consists of a series of future annual payments to 2022, with a present value of approximately $1 million. Tembec - September 1, 2007.

    Innovative internet and cable/satellite channel CurrentTV is producing a documentary on Brazil's biofuel revolution. Biopact collegues and friends Marcelo Coelho (EthanolBrasil Blog), Henrique Oliveira (Ethablog) and Marcelo Alioti (E-Machine) provided consulting on the technical, economic, environmental and social aspects of Brazil's energy transformation. ProCana - August 31, 2007.

    Oil major BP Plc and Associated British Foods Plc won competition clearance from the European Commission on to build a plant to make transport fuel from wheat in Hull, northeast England. U.S. chemical company DuPont is also involved. Reuters UK - August 31, 2007.

    The government of the Indian state of Orissa announced its policy for biofuel production which includes a slew of incentives as well as measures to promote the establishment of energy plantations. The state aims to bring 600,000 hectares of barren and fallow land under Jatropha and Karanj. At least 2 million hectares degraded land are available in the State. The new policy's other objectives are to provide a platform for investors and entrepreneurs, market linkages and quality control measures. Newindpress - August 29, 2007.

    Brazil's state-run oil company Petrobras said today it expects to reach large scale cellulosic ethanol production in 2015, with the first plant entering operations as early as 2011. Lignocellulosic biomass is the most abundant biological material on the planet, making up the bulk of the structure of wood and plants. In a first phase, Petrobras intends to use bagasse as a feedstock. Reuters / MacauHub- August 29, 2007.

    Seattle based Propel Biofuels, is announcing a $4.75 million first round of capital from @Ventures and Nth Power. The money will be used to help Propel set up and manage biodiesel fueling stations. BusinessWire - August 29, 2007.

    BioEnergy International, a science and technology company committed to developing biorefineries to produce fuels and specialty chemicals from renewable resources, announced today the closing of a major US$61.6 million investment that will provide funding for the Company’s three strategic initiatives: generating secure cash flow from its conventional ethanol platform, product diversification through the introduction of novel biocatalysts for the manufacture of green chemicals and biopolymers and the integration of its cellulose technology. BusinessWire - August 28, 2007.

    German company Verbio Vereinigte BioEnergie, the biggest biofuels producer in Europe, says it is considering plans to invest up to €100/US$136.5 million in a biofuel production facility in Bulgaria. The company wants the new facility to be located close to a port and Bulgaria's city of Varna on the Black Sea is one of the options under consideration. If Verbio goes through with the plan, it would produce both biodiesel and bioethanol, making Bulgaria a major source of biofuels in southeastern Europe. Verbi currently produces around 700,000 tonnes of biofuels per year. Sofia News Agency - August 27, 2007.

    Czech brown-coal-fired power plant Elektrárna Tisová (ETI), a unit of the energy producer ČEZ, could co-fire up to 40,000 tons of biomass this year, the biggest amount in the company’s history, said Martin Sobotka, ČEZ spokesman for West Bohemia. ETI burned more than 19,000 tons of biomass in the first half of 2007. The company’s plan reckoned with biomass consumption of up to 35,000 tons a year. Czech Business Weekly - August 27, 2007.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bayer CropScience to increase yearly R&D budget to €750 million to meet challenges of the bioeconomy

Bayer CropScience plans to align its research more closely with the needs of the emerging bioeconomy. The biotech branch of chemical giant Bayer AG expects a continuously growing demand for agricultural products, and in the future this demand will be driven not only by the production of food, feed and fiber but increasingly by the use of biobased products and biofuels. To meet the challenges, Bayer CropScience will increase its annual budget for research and development to €750 million (US$1 billion) per year by 2015.

New biofuel crops
During the company's annual press meeting, Professor Friedrich Berschauer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer CropScience AG, said that in response to the rapidly growing global demand for biofuels, Bayer CropScience is working on ways of using plants which have not featured in agriculture to date as an economically efficient feedstock. One of these plants is Jatropha curcas, an oil-bearing shrub with inedible fruit (image) which grows predominantly in arid regions. The fact that a company like Bayer CropScience will be researching Jatropha takes the crop out of its current marginal status.

The seeds of Jatropha consist of more than 30 percent oil which can be used to make a low-pollutant biodiesel which reduces CO2 emissions. The advantage is that this biodiesel can be used in many engines worldwide without the need for extensive technical modification. Jatropha can be cultivated on marginal land in tropical and subtropical regions, or in other words on land that is unsuitable for producing food crops. Berschauer hopes that Bayer CropScience research in this area will make a major contribution to the development of a sustainable biofuel industry.

Berschauer explained that limited agricultural land, the uninterrupted growth of the world's population and the impact of climate change are threatening the supply of agricultural products and are leading to shortage-driven prices for major agricultural commodities. He described this development as a 'silent agricultural revolution.' Bayer CropScience expects the use of agricultural raw materials for the production of biofuels to increase considerably, and this will benefit both the seed market and the crop protection market. Innovation and constant technological progress are the only way to overcome this challenge.

Boosting R&D
Therefore, Bayer CropScience plans to increase its annual research and development budget to some €750 million by 2015, up from €614 in 2006. The company’s research effort is focused on promising areas such as new modes of action in crop protection, improved plant health as well as optimized plant characteristics and new agronomic traits. It is also increasing its emphasis on aspects such as herbicide tolerance, insect resistance and increased yields. Bayer CropScience is additionally working on new biotechnological approaches to making plants more resistant to a number of stress factors such as heat, drought, cold and soil salinity. The first products from this stress tolerance research program are expected to reach the market in 2015:
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“We are convinced that we can only keep pace with the future requirements of the new agricultural economy if we use all the options available for safeguarding harvests and increasing yields”, Berschauer emphasized. “The increase in productivity which we will need to achieve in agriculture in the coming years will only be possible with modern crop protection and the new approaches offered by plant breeding and plant biotechnology.”

Promising active ingredient and plant biotechnology pipeline
Bayer CropScience started a launch program in 2000 with the objective of bringing 26 new active substances for crop protection to market by 2011. “We expect these substances to have a combined peak sales potential of approximately EUR 2 billion”, the CEO said, underlining the contribution of crop protection research to Bayer CropScience’s value-added. Of the total of 26 compounds, 17 had already been launched by the end of 2006 and last year achieved sales of EUR 1 billion.

Throughout 2007, the company has received regulatory approvals for three more active ingredients in their first markets. It also has ten substances in late-stage development and another nine at an early stage of development. Bayer CropScience will continue to draw on a wide range of new and promising research projects in the future. Currently, the company has 45 new projects at an early stage of research.

The company also has a well-equipped seed and plant biotechnology pipeline which currently contains over 40 lead projects. It has six herbicide tolerance and insect resistance projects in a late-stage of development. They are scheduled for launch from 2010 onwards. Furthermore, the introduction of three new herbicide tolerance traits is also planned within the next three years, amongst them one that confers tolerance to the herbicide glyphosate. “We are confident that our BioScience pipeline will be a major source of new impetus as we expand our business”, Berschauer said.

Seed and biotech sales planned to reach EUR 1 billion within ten years
“Within the next ten years we want to expand sales in our BioScience business from the 2006 level of EUR 342 million to around EUR 1 billion”, was how Berschauer explained the unit's growth potential. In order to reach this target, Bayer CropScience is making considerable investments in research and development and in the targeted expansion of its seed portfolio. In this context, the acquisition of Stoneville’s cotton seed business in the United States, with a transaction volume of US$ 310 million, is the biggest single acquisition since Bayer CropScience was established. The company is currently Number 2 in the global cotton seed market and is able to offer a wide range of seeds that combine attractive traits with high yields and excellent fiber quality.

In addition, within the last 12 months the company has acquired the two U.S. cotton companies CPCSD and Reliance Genetics, the Korean company SeedEx with its hot pepper and brassica varieties, and Unilever's tomato seed business. It will also be setting up two joint ventures in China, the world’s largest hybrid rice market. The partners are Lu Dan Seed Company and Nong Ke Seed Company.

New opportunities in the corn and soybean markets
In the future Bayer CropScience is planning to increase its involvement in the markets for herbicide-tolerant and insect-resistant corn and soybean varieties. To this end, the company plans to award licenses to use its LibertyLink� herbicide tolerance technology to seed producers and dealers and thus to participate more effectively in the growth of the U.S. corn and soybean markets. Bayer CropScience concluded a licensing agreement of this kind with the Monsanto Company in June 2007. In addition to licensing royalties, Bayer CropScience is anticipating higher income from sales of its total herbicide Liberty�. The company estimates that the global market for biotechnologically optimized plant traits for corn, soybeans, canola, cotton and rice will double in value between 2005 and 2015, to around EUR 3.6 billion.

Berschauer commented that Bayer CropScience will continue to review opportunities for cooperation and acquisitions with a view to developing its BioScience business further. The focus will be on canola, cotton, rice and vegetables - crops in which the company is already well placed in the seed business.

Bayer AG is a global research-based and growth-oriented enterprise with core competencies in the fields of health care, nutrition and high-tech materials. Bayer CropScience AG, a subsidiary of Bayer AG with annual sales of €5.7 billion (2006), is one of the world’s leading innovative crop science companies in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology.

Bayer CropScience: Innovation and new technologies will help us to meet the growing demand for food and energy-producing plants - September 6, 2007.

Bayer CropScience: Challenges of the New Ag Economy - Securing Harvests, increasing Yields, Address by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Friedrich Berschauer, Chairman of the Board of Management, Bayer CropScience AG - September 6, 2007.


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