Grow Your Own

From the Desk of the Editor in Chief

Every year, we take a high-level tour of the most important developments in the burgeoning biotechnology sector. For this year’s round-up, we set our sights a bit lower, because the most exciting activity literally is taking place at ground level.

The buzzword is bioenergy, and it seems like everyone is rushing to transform their favorite local staples—and some not-so-favorite pests like algae—into production-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities. Next-generation biofuels have been ripped out of research papers and pilot incubators and ramped up at warp speed. Everything from sorghum to pond scum to the fat your grandma used to skim off her chicken soup is being converted into jet fuel, lubricants, adhesives and even cosmetics and candles.

The major oil companies have taken note and are investing heavily in commercial-scale cellulosic biofuel plants, many located near feedstocks that were written off as marshland not suitable for development. The biotech revolution has met the renewable energy revolution head on, and it’s coming soon to a fuel depot near you. Developments are unfolding rapidly. We encourage you to keep a close eye on the Breaking News section of our Web site,, after you digest this month’s cover feature.

We invite you to fill up your tank and enjoy the ride. And don’t throw away those lawn clippings this summer. They may come in handy.