BioWorld International Correspondent

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Union will not hit its targets for switching to sustainable energy unless it makes fuller use of biotechnology's potential in biofuels production, according to EuropaBio.

The European association for bioindustries set out its policy for first- and second-generation biofuels Aug. 17, with a warning that demand for energy crops will be met only if the strategy takes account of the industrial imperatives and the scientific contribution of the biotechnology sector.

Available biomass in Europe will need to increase to achieve the EU's biofuel goals of 5.75 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2020, which will require the use of biotechnology to attain higher output per hectare and more fermentable carbohydrates or higher oil-content crops, EuropaBio said. In addition, improved cellulose-degrading enzymes will be crucial to the development of second-generation biofuels, it noted.

"Biotechnology is today one of the most effective and innovative tools we have to attain European targets for biofuel use in a sustainable way," said Steen Riisgaard, president of Novozymes and chairman of EuropaBio. "We are all excited about getting to the second-generation biofuels, but I would like to underline that in order to facilitate the transition toward second-generation biofuels, a market for first-generation biofuels is needed, with an appropriate infrastructure and distribution."

EuropaBio said the EU should immediately impose binding targets for blending biofuels with petrol and diesel, permit a higher biofuel content in blends of petrol and diesel and promote research that will allow second-generation biofuels to become a viable, commercial business within the next four to six years.

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