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Results from non-food agro-industrial research projects now available

A book containing a selection of the final summary reports from research and development projects on the production and use of renewable biomaterials derived from agricultural crops and supported by the European Commission's AIR programme is now available. The contents are ba...

A book containing a selection of the final summary reports from research and development projects on the production and use of renewable biomaterials derived from agricultural crops and supported by the European Commission's AIR programme is now available. The contents are based on information collected in the course of the concerted action (FAIR-CT96-1904) on non-food agro-industrial research information dissemination 'NF-2000'. The reports cover renewable bioproducts aimed at the higher value markets. They are arranged, as was the programme, in a series of clusters covering biomass production, thermochemical conversion, bioconversion, oils and fats and bioplastics as well as pulp and paper. In addition to these areas of activity, the AIR programme also covered forestry management, wood products, food, fisheries and conventional agricultural research. The renewable bioproducts area of the AIR programme is the least developed commercially, reveals the AIR secretariat. Yet the European Commission has chosen to highlight projects in this area because it 'offers particular opportunities to small and medium sized businesses to enter niche markets while providing the farming community with novel crops and the possibility of diversifying their activities.' Despite growing, harvesting, processing and using crops being more expensive than using petroleum as an industrial raw material, the European Commission believes natural products remain a viable alternative. 'Natural products have environmental benefits including biodegradability and are less likely to cause allergic reactions (and find) favour with consumers as natural or 'green' chemicals,' it writes. As a consequence, it launched the AIR programme to investigate the extent to which the reliability of production of novel crops could be improved, raw material production costs reduced and the efficiency and quality of end products increased. Other activities such as those in the area of pulp and paper aimed to apply novel, often biological treatments that were more benign and less polluting. 'In many areas further developments are still needed and continue to be funded under the Fifth RTD Framework programme, as part of ongoing efforts by the European Commission to bring renewable bioproducts to the market place,' concludes the AIR programme secretariat. The information including in the book is also available on CD-ROM along side reports on all non-food related projects financed under the European Commission's ECLAIR, AIR and FAIR programmes. The full CD-ROM contains information on more than 400 projects in total with more than 2600 contacts, 1200 items and 750 images and a full report of the FAIR programme.