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Energy Biosciences Institute: Wikis


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The Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), formally announced on February 1, 2007, is an organization that will pursue research "to develop new sources of energy and reduce the impact of energy consumption on the environment."[1] Funded primarily by BP, which has signed a contract to contribute 500 million dollars over ten years, the Institute is a joint initiative between the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Eighty percent of the award is slated for research at the Berkeley site, where a new 'Helios' building (scheduled to open in 2010)[2] is proposed to be built for the Institute, though citizens, students and staff have expressed strong opposition to the building (which would house 50 BP scientists), and plans have been delayed.[3] Governor Schwarzenegger pushed the California state government to subsidize the building with $50 million. The remaining 100 million dollars is to be spent in Champaign, primarily on investigating energy crops for biofuels feedstocks. It is one of the largest joint initiatives between a private corporation and a public university in history.



The EBI has come under intense scrutiny, partly from the StopBP-Berkeley campaign, along several lines: concern about biofuels, concern about the influence of large private corporations on public universities, and concern about the influence and motives of oil companies in particular on public research.[4]


Corporate Influence

The EBI comes on the heels of another controversial agreement involving a $25 million grant by then Novartis to the Berkeley College of Natural Resources.


Critics have pointed to the negative impacts on food prices, livelihoods, and the environment of first-generation biofuels.

Academic Governance

Concerns about improper process led to a special hearing of the UC Berkeley academic senate.


Relations of the EBI with nanotechnology are not yet clear. Part of the justification of locating the Helios building next to the Molecular Foundry was to take advantage of synergies.

The impacts of possible new technologies produced by the EBI were excluded from consideration in the environmental impact report. The EBI hopes to genetically engineer bacteria that will be able to breakdown lignin, which is the basic structure of the cell wall that supports woody plant structures. The EBI also has as a central plank of their research program the objective of using bioengineering to increase the recovery of fossil fuels from existing mines and wells.

See also


External links


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