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Bio-Based Products Enhance National Security

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2006 – The use of biological-based products is important to the nation’s economy and to national security, because these products help reduce America’s dependence on foreign energy resources, the deputy secretary of defense said here today.

The Defense Department is the largest purchaser of products in the federal government, and therefore has an opportunity to promote the use of bio-based products, many of which act as substitutes for products based on non-renewable natural resources like oil and natural gas, Gordon England said at the opening of a Pentagon showcase of bio-based products.

“To be clear, this is not like the latest health food fad, where you go to a specialty shop and you buy a lot of additional expensive supplements and ingredients,” England said. “This is about substituting an equally effective product or approach to meet a requirement you have that may well end up costing less in the end.”

DoD is pleased to lead the way in bio-based product use for the federal government, because these products make the country more secure by reducing America’s dependence on foreign energy resources and are a key part of the department’s overall strategy, England said.

“Our strategy also supports our long-term national security interests by protecting and preserving the environment for the future generations, so they can enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness to the fullest here in America,” he said.

England noted that DoD facilities already are using bio-based products, such as soy-based cleaning solutions and, in some cases, are saving thousands of dollars.

Bio-based products are composed of renewable products that are grown in America’s fields and forests, including plant, animal and marine materials, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns said at the showcase. These products not only reduce the country’s reliance on the world’s finite supply of fossil fuels, but also help the economy by promoting growth in rural America, he said.

In order to reap the benefits of bio-based products, Congress has identified the developing bio-based industry for preferential treatment within the federal government, Johanns said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going through a process of screening and approving bio-based products. Once final rules are issued, federal agencies will be required to use these environmentally friendly products, he said.

The Department of Agriculture has identified more than 170 items that are eligible to be included in the bio-based procurement program. A final rule was established in March to designate the first six bio-based items, Johanns said. These six items are found in at least 80 branded products found in the market today, including hydraulic fluids, floor coatings, bedding, linens and towels, he said. The department is working to advance another 50 items into formal clearance by the end of the year, he added.

DoD already has made great strides in the bio-based products effort, and as the program moves forward, the department has enormous potential to influence the rest of the federal government, Johanns said. “The fact that you’re here today at this conference is a testament to what you’re doing here,” he said. “Our efforts to increase bio-based procurement have met great success so far.”

The Pentagon showcase, scheduled to last through noon tomorrow, brings together members of the bio-based product industry and those in DoD who specify, buy and use commercial or industrial products. The showcase includes multiple product booths and a series of panel discussions on specific product categories, such as biodegradable industrial oils and lubricants, packaging materials, and hand-sanitation products.

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Gordon England
Mike Johanns

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