ASPB supports the President's research initiatives

American Competitiveness Initiative and Advanced Energy Initiative address urgent needs of the nation

ROCKVILLE, MD – The American Society of Plant Biologists today issued it's strong support for the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and Advanced Energy Initiative recommended by President Bush.

American Society of Plant Biologists President Michael Thomashow, Ph.D., noted that the science community appreciates The President's leadership in launching the ACI, which will double investment in research over 10 years sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science and the Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Leaders of each of these Agencies testified February 15 before the House Science Committee chaired by Congressman Sherwood Boehlert.

Dr. Thomashow said the ACI provides increased investment in research needed for continued growth of the nation's economy. "The nation's ability to generate job-creating industries, remain competitive in the global market, and improve the quality life of consumers will be enhanced by enactment of this research initiative," Dr. Thomashow said.

Dr. Thomashow commended The President for his Advanced Energy Initiative that will help transition the nation away from its increasing dependence on foreign oil. The opportunities in plant and microbial research to more efficiently produce and convert biomass to ethanol are much greater today with our increasing knowledge of plant genomes, plant physiology and of modern plant transformation technologies.

"Brazil moved to energy independence with help from research on the sugar cane genome and related plant research. Future studies on plant cell wall (biomass), plant genomes, plant physiology and cellulose conversion are among the areas that will help transition a major segment of the nation's transportation fuels sector away from imported gasoline, to domestically grown, cleaner burning biofuels," Dr. Thomashow said.

"As DOE and USDA reported in April of last year, with advances in research, we can transition from having one in fifty cars on America's roads powered by biofuels to one in three cars running on biofuels. This shift to biofuels will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the nation's growing trade deficit, spur local economies, and help serve as a stabilizing effect against future energy price shocks," Dr. Thomashow said. The DOE and USDA report Dr. Thomashow cited is "Biomass as Feedstock for a Bioenergy and Bioproducts Industry: The Technical Feasibility of a Billion-Ton Supply," which can be read at http://www.woodycrops.org/reports/Billion%20Ton%20Supply%20-%20Final%20.pdf

Dr. Thomashow, University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University, is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. The American Society of Plant Biologists is a non-profit society of nearly 6,000 scientists. ASPB publishes the two most widely cited plant science journals in the world, "Plant Physiology" and "The Plant Cell."

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