PULLMAN, Wash. — An innovative new research alliance involving
Washington State University could lead to scientific breakthroughs that will
allow oil from crops to replace some petroleum fuels and lubricants, and
petroleum-based chemicals in the production of many plastics.

The Dow Chemical Company and Dow AgroSciences LLC have committed
more than $10 million to fund research at Michigan State University, Miami
University, Washington State University and the Department of Energy’s
Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The partnership represents the second largest public/private consortium ever
created for agricultural biotechnology research. WSU will receive
approximately $2.3 million to fund its portion of the research.

Funds will support five postdoctoral scientists in the WSU Institute of
Biological Chemistry for research aimed at the creation of new industrial
products from agricultural plants and to improve the nutritional content for
certain plant oils.

Scientists will pool their expertise to improve specific oils and fatty acid traits
of soybeans, canola, sunflower and other crops.

The new technology that will be created may also lead to cheaper or
better-performing oils for human consumption, such as cooking oils, margarine
and other food products.

If successful, the research would create new markets for regional crops and
provide a boost for the agricultural economy.

“I am very excited to be helping to launch this new initiative in oilseed
engineering,” said John Browse, who will direct the work in WSU’s Institute of
Biological Chemistry. “The generous resources provided by The Dow
Chemical Company and Dow AgroSciences will complement and extend our
current research on the synthesis of vegetable oils in plants and take this
research to a new level of understanding and practicality.

“I look forward to the day when we can provide on the one hand healthier food
oils, and on the other hand alternative, environmentally friendly ways to
produce plastics, resins and other chemical products that enhance people’s
lives.”

WSU researchers have a well-established track record in biotechnology
research, said Norman Lewis, director of the IBC. “We are pleased that WSU
has been recognized as having the capabilities to be a major player in this
groundbreaking research.”

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