ASTM International establishes new Industrial Biotechnology committee

Medical and pharmaceutical applications are one of three main areas of focus

West Conshohocken, PA, US-headquartered international standards organisation ASTM has formed a new industrial biotechnology technical committee (E62) comprising representatives of the medical and pharmaceutical industries, agriculture and other industries.

Industrial biotechnology is defined by the Biotechnology Industry Organisation as 'technology based on biology — biotechnology harnesses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop technologies and products that help improve our lives and the health of our planet'.

Planning for Committee E62 began after a series of meetings between ASTM and the Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) in early 2013. Larry Sloan, President and CEO of SOCMA, says standards to be developed by E62 will play 'an important role in establishing a more consistent foundation on which to base industry-related incentives and regulations'.

'Without industrial biotechnology standards, we cannot have good policy and without good policy, we cannot have investment,' he says. 'And without investment, the US cannot remain the global innovation leader that it is.'

Through its subcommittees, E62 will develop test methods, practices and terminology standards focusing on many aspects of industrial biotechnology.

Potential topics for E62 standards include feedstock biomass, determination of green content, life cycle analysis and drop-in chemical specifications.

Industrial biotechnology represents a move away from industry’s reliance on non-renewable resources, turning instead to the use of sustainable biomass as a resource. Rather than using fossil fuels and minerals, industrial biotechnology uses biomass from crops and waste products.

Along with this shift in raw materials, biotechnology uses biological processes rather than solely chemical ones in the manufacturing and energy sectors. By relying on sustainable resources, industrial biotechnology reduces greenhouse gas emissions and lessens the negative impact of manufacturing on the environment.

The benefits of industrial biotechnology include more efficient, less environmentally harmful products.

Three specific areas are currently the central focus of industrial biotechnology efforts:

  • Medical and pharmaceutical applications;
  • Industrial uses; and
  • Agricultural applications.

Representatives of various disciplines, including consumers, manufacturers, suppliers, software developers, trade and professional society and government agencies participated in the April organisational meeting, said ASTM.

In addition, because biotechnology has spread into so many different areas, E62 will coordinate its activities with several ASTM committees, including: D02 on Petroleum Products, Liquid Fuels and Lubricants; E55 on Manufacture of Pharmaceutical Products; E56 on Nanotechnology; and F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices.