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The Biotech Maturation

Despite the financial crisis, industrial biotechnology "is taking off," writes The Economist. This sector is doing well, the article says, because the technology has matured beyond the laboratory stage and large corporations are beginning to take advantage of it. Indeed, a few startups that are now being backed by larger firms: Royal Dutch Shell has invested in Codexis and the French oil company Total is backing Amyris. "We're not just dealing with vats any more," says Volkert Claassen of Royal DSM.

A related article looks into the entwinement of biofuels and ethanol — "With a viable new biofuel yet to emerge, lobbyists are still pushing to support the old one," it says. Ethanol advocates want to extend US tariffs on ethanol imports and a tax credit that are set to expire at the end of the year. "Between 2005 and 2009 the tax credit for blending petrol with ethanol cost $17 billion. This year it will cost some $5.4 billion," the article says. "Surely the money could be better spent somewhere else."