BIO 2006: Not a lot of edibles

By David Feder, Managing Editor

BIO 2006, the annual conference of the Biotechnology Industry Organization held in Chicago April 9-12, promised at least some coverage of food ingredient/agricultural biotechnology. Unfortunately, there wasn’t that much. Most of the program sessions, and virtually all of the exposition exhibits, consisted of pharmaceutical biotech.

One session of interest, albeit peripheral to food, was “The Third Wave in Biotechnology: From Food to Fuel to Fashion.” The food ingredient companies sponsoring this session included Novozymes, DSM and Cargill.

Novozymes’ Dr. Steen Riisgaard spoke of the role and function of enzymes in production of cheese, beer and bread.

DSM Nutritional Product’s Dr. Leendert Staal delivered the most food information, discussing the manipulation of dairy ingredients for use as additives and enhancers. The most interesting of these was DSM’s development of clear milk. Initial audience reaction was actually a collective gasp; however, as an ingredient for use in clear beverages, it can be recognized as a desirable characteristic with wide application.

DSM’s PeptoPro was also present in the form of a brief aside and a sample beverage (Sportex Recovery Pro) using the trademarked PeptoPro peptide formula.

Nutragenomics was presented as the hot trend issue but discussion was couched in terms of its nascence, its diversity and little else. For the most part, it was raised as a topic without any expansion.

Overall, when food was discussed the verbiage matched that of the fuel and fashion portions of the program (both of which were highly entertaining, by the way). In a nutshell, these folks were not exactly food people, and so their contributions to the food portion were cursory. Still, it was fascinating to learn just how far food ingredients can go to enhance not only our pantries but our entire lifestyle.

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