[For further information on the Electronic Forum on Biotechnology in Food and Agriculture see the Forum website.
Note, participants are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf, unless they state otherwise.]

-----Original Message-----
From: Biotech-Mod3
Sent: 07 November 2008 12:35
To: 'biotech-room3@mailserv.fao.org'
Subject: Opening of FAO e-mail conference on bioenergy and biotechnologies

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the FAO e-mail conference on "The role of agricultural biotechnologies for production of bioenergy in developing countries" !!

You can send messages now (send them to biotech-room3@mailserv.fao.org). Messages will be posted from Monday 10 November onwards while the last day for receiving messages for posting will be Sunday 7 December 2008.

We hope that the conference will be interesting, constructive and beneficial and we encourage you to participate actively. We would like to briefly remind you of some of the main points about the running of the conference:

1. Participants should introduce themselves briefly in their first posting to the conference. They should also provide their full address at the end of the message. When a message is posted, we will replace @ in the e-mail address with (at) because of spamming.

2. Messages should not exceed 600 words

3. People posting messages are assumed to be speaking on their own behalf and not on behalf of their employers (unless they indicate otherwise)

4. The Background Document to the conference, sent by e-mail to the Forum members on 21 October 2008, sets the scene for the conference and so we strongly encourage you to read it, especially Section 5 (reproduced below) which lists the kinds of specific questions that participants should address in the e-mail conference. The document is available at http://www.fao.org/biotech/C15doc.htm. Contact me if you want to receive it within an e-mail or as a PDF or WORD attachment.

5. Messages posted in the conference will later (usually within a day or two) be placed on the Forum website - at http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/c15logs.htm

6. No messages will be posted with attachments. If you receive a message during the conference with an e-mail attachment, just delete it without opening the attachment.

7. The conference encompasses applications of biotechnologies to crops, grasses, forest trees and micro-organisms and to different bioenergy production systems (first- and second-generation generation biofuels, biogas, microalgal biodiesel) and so brings together people who may have knowledge/experience from one or more of these areas, but not all of them. As terminology is occasionally sector-specific, we ask participants to try and keep this in mind when writing their messages (e.g. giving a brief explanation of any sector-specific technical terms, when first used in the conference).

8. As for all other conferences hosted by this FAO Biotechnology Forum, when it is finished a document will be prepared to provide a summary of the main arguments and issues discussed during the e-mail conference, based on the messages posted by the participants. The summary document will be put on the Forum website and disseminated as widely as possible.

For those of you who joined the FAO Biotechnology Forum recently, we can tell you that this is the 15th e-mail conference that it has hosted since it began in 2000. All publications, background and summary documents, e-mail messages etc. related to these conferences are available at the Forum website - http://www.fao.org/biotech/forum.asp

Finally, we encourage you to tell any potentially interested colleagues or contacts about this conference. A short notice is included below for this purpose.

With our sincere best wishes for a successful conference,


John Ruane, PhD
Moderator, Conference 15
e-mail: mailto:biotech-mod3@fao.org
FAO Biotechnology Forum website http://www.fao.org/biotech/forum.asp
FAO Biotechnology website http://www.fao.org/biotech/index.asp


FAO e-mail conference: Bioenergy and agricultural biotechnologies

The FAO Biotechnology Forum is hosting an e-mail conference entitled "The role of agricultural biotechnologies for production of bioenergy in developing countries". Organised in collaboration with the FAO Working Group on Bioenergy, the conference takes place from 10 November to 7 December 2008 and focuses mainly on liquid biofuels. It covers biotechnology applications for first- and second-generation biofuels and, to a lesser degree, for biogas production and for biodiesel production from microalgae. To discuss and exchange experiences on this subject, we invite you to join the conference. The background document for the conference is available at http://www.fao.org/biotech/C15doc.htm. The conference is open to everyone, is free and will be moderated. All e-mail messages posted during the conference will also be placed on the Forum website (http://www.fao.org/biotech/forum.asp). To join the Forum (and also register for the conference), send an e-mail to mailserv@mailserv.fao.org leaving the subject blank and entering the following text on two lines:

subscribe BIOTECH-L
subscribe biotech-room3

Forum members wishing to register for the conference should leave out the first line of the above message. For more information, contact biotech-mod3@fao.org.



Some of the kinds of specific questions that participants might wish to address in the e-mail conference are given below:

5.1 For first-generation liquid biofuels (i.e. from grains, seeds, oils):

- As described in Section 2.6, there are currently a number of concerns about first-generation biofuels. Can applications of biotechnology substantially alleviate any of these concerns? If so, how?

- For R+D programmes in developing countries, should applications of biotechnology focus on production of biomass for biofuel purposes or on bioconversion of biomass to liquid biofuels?

5.2 For second-generation liquid biofuels (i.e. from LC biomass):

- Second-generation biofuels, although not yet commercially available, are likely to be a reality in the future. How important is it for developing countries to be involved in the biotechnology-based R+D that will play a key role in their eventual availability? Alternatively, should developing countries prioritise other activities now and use the biotechnology tools/products for second-generation biofuels developed elsewhere (probably in developed countries) when they are eventually available on the market?

- Most of the world's industrial enzymes (60%) are produced in Europe, while the remaining 40% come from the United States and Japan, although countries like China, India and South Korea are likely to play a greater role in the future (Bon and Ferrara, 2007). For conversion of LC biomass to liquid biofuels, use of cellulases plays a key role in the economics of the operation. How realistic is it for developing countries to produce their own cellulases? Can regional co-operation be important here?

- As mentioned in Section 2.3, LC biomass can be converted to biofuels through two major routes, by thermo-chemical or biochemical processing, where only the latter involves extensive applications of biotechnology. For developing countries wishing to produce second-generation liquid biofuels, are there strong arguments in favour of one of the processing routes over the other?

5.3 For other kinds of biofuels

- Production of biodiesel from microalgae is not currently feasible but may be so in the future. As for other future biofuels, such as second-generation biofuels based on LC biomass, should developing countries invest their (generally scarce) biotechnology R+D resources in this area or should they wait until commercial products are available in the future? If so, which aspects should be prioritised?

- Small-scale biogas units are already operating in developing countries. Is there a role for biotechnologies in improving the operation/efficiency of these units? If so, how?

5.4 General questions

- The issue of the relevance for developing countries of bioenergy-related biotechnologies produced in developed countries was discussed briefly in Section 4.1. How important is this issue and what can developing countries do about it?

- Regarding IPR mentioned in Section 4.2, how big of an issue is this in relation to biotechnologies for bioenergy production in developing countries and how should developing countries act to ensure they have access to appropriate biotechnologies for bioenergy production?

- Regarding biofuel production for non-transport purposes (Section 4.3), can applications of biotechnology contribute in a significant way to the non-transport energy needs of people living in developing countries? If so, how?

- First generation biofuels and biogas are currently available, while second-generation biofuels and microalgal biodiesel are still in the pipeline. Should developing countries prioritise their biotechnology resources (people, money etc.) on the range of biofuels currently available or on those showing great promise but which will only be available in the future?

- In the biofuel sector today, some developing countries, in particular Brazil, are key players. In the context of applying biotechnology for bioenergy production, how important can South-South co-operation be so that technicians and experts in developing countries can help each other?

- Are certain applications of biotechnology for bioenergy purposes of major specific relevance/benefit to rural smallholders in one or more regions of the developing world? If so, which ones?

Return to Archives of Conference 15 or go to the main Forum pages. Note: you must join the Forum to participate in these discussions.