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Introduction to Conference 15

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 Conference 15

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    Conference 15 of the FAO Biotechnology Forum considered the potential role that agricultural biotechnologies can play for production of bioenergy in developing countries, with a major focus on liquid biofuels.

    The e-mail conference took place from 10 November to 14 December 2008 and was organised in collaboration with the FAO Working Group on Bioenergy.

    A Background Document was prepared before the conference and its aim was to provide some brief background to the subject as well as to mention the issues to be considered in the conference. As usual, a document will be prepared after the e-mail conference is finished to summarise the main issues that were discussed.

    The conference covered biotechnology applications for first-generation and second-generation biofuels and, to a lesser degree, for biogas production and for biodiesel production from microalgae. It therefore encompassed the use of biotechnology tools to produce biomass for bioenergy purposes as well as to convert biomass to biofuel. The conference, as usual, was open to everyone, was free and moderated.

    As part of the build up to the conference, an FAO seminar on the same subject was held in Rome on 12 October 2007. One of the invited papers, by S. Zarrilli, covered issues such as the current global situation regarding biofuels; the potential impacts of genetic modification; trade implications; biofuels certification; and product differentiation under the World Trade Organization. Another invited paper by G.A. Tuskan focused on technical issues and options for the use of genomics for production of lignocellulosic biomass and its conversion to biofuel. A third invited paper, by E.P.S. Bon and M.A. Ferrara, described some of the biochemical aspects behind breakdown of lignocellulosic biomass to bioethanol; the importance of cellulases; as well as giving some of the history of Brazilian research in this area. Visit the Seminar website to view the papers and presentations.

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© FAO, 2008