WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Ceres Inc. President and CEO Richard Hamilton addressed the National Academy of Sciences on the impact of technology advances and public policy on energy crops this week.

During his presentation to the organization's Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable he said that biotechnology-based innovations across the biofuels production chain will bring the cost of a new generation of cellulosic biofuels down significantly, while vastly increasing supply.

"Biofuels produced from dedicated energy crops will be able to compete economically with gasoline, but the industry will need support early on to get the first several cellulosic biorefineries built," Hamilton said.

He noted that Ceres' innovations in plant breeding and biotechnology will greatly increase yields from energy crops, reduce harvest and transportation costs, and expand the available acreage to land not suitable for food production. With these advances, U.S. farmers could feasibly supply sufficient biomass feedstock to produce as much as 100 billion gallons of ethanol without impacting domestic food supplies.

A frequent speaker on energy and government policy, Hamilton encouraged the public and private sectors to work together to establish best practices for planting, harvesting and storing dedicated energy crops, and has asked lawmakers to consider extending programs like crop insurance and other farmer-protection programs to these new crops. He also supports public funding of first-generation biorefineries and basic research into microbes for use in bioenergy.

Hamilton recently addressed the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and the House Agriculture Committee. He has served as vice chairman of the Biotechnology Industry Organization and chaired their Food and Agriculture Governing Board. He is currently a member of their board of directors.

Ceres Inc. is the leading developer of high-yielding energy crops that can be planted as feedstocks for cellulosic ethanol production. Its development efforts cover switchgrass, giant miscanthus, poplar and other energy crops. Founded in 1997 as a plant genomics company, Ceres holds the largest proprietary collection of fully sequenced plant genes, including more than 70,000 genes and 10,000 gene promoters. The privately held company also licenses its traits to other organizations, including a $137 million, multi-year agreement with Monsanto. Ceres headquarters are located in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

SOURCE: Ceres, Inc. via PR Newswire.