CRC AIMS TO SWEETEN THE FUTURE FOR SUGAR INDUSTRY

Published 4 June 2004

Doubling the value of the sugarcane plant and increasing the production of sucrose in the plant by 10 per cent are two of the core aims of the newly established Cooperative Research Centre for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology (CRC SIIB).

The CRC SIIB – which will receive $28 million in Federal Government funding over the next seven years – is a unique amalgamation of skill, resources, financial commitment and intellectual property from research bodies, government and the private sector.

This alliance of Australia’s top sugarcane biotechnology research organisations, tertiary institutions, including Southern Cross University, sugar industry research groups, CSIRO, Federal and Queensland Government and commercial expertise is sharply focused on adding new value to Australian sugarcane through diversification.

The CRC programs of work aim to:

• give sugarcane the ability to produce more and better quality sucrose
• give sugarcane the ability to express alternative, marketable products; and
• attract the highest quality scientists and students, and give them opportunities to grow with an important crop industry

Its board met at SCU today and also took the opportunity to outline its aims to industry representatives from the North Coast.

CEO Dr Peter Twine said the CRC SIIB was established to investigate the opportunities provided by the application of biotechnology to the sugarcane plant.

“By pursuing this line of research, we hope to provide a range of new, higher value products for the industry,” he said.

Dr Twine said sugarcane was an ideal plant for this ground breaking research.

“This hybrid grass is grown world wide, and is one of nature’s most efficient natural converters of sunlight and water into biomass – in other words, sugarcane is the ideal biofactory.”

“It grows vigorously, is virtually sterile in the field, and an efficient infrastructure already exists to grow, harvest and mill the crops.”

Dr Twine said he understood the importance of the industry to Far North Coast economies and was confident that the work to be undertaken by the CRC would have far reaching benefits.

He said it was not only the sugar industry which would benefit from the centre’s work but also the local environment and the wider community.

“The sugar industry’s profitability as a whole will be advanced by improvements to traditional activities including longer harvest seasons to better use industry capital and the development of new or alternative products and markets,” Dr Twine.

“Environmental benefits will be realised from the development of varieties that rely less on applied chemicals to control pests and from the creation of a renewable source of biodegradable end-products.

“And the wider community, including the Northern NSW coast, will benefit from an enhanced and more sustainable “The sugar industry’s profitability as a whole will be advanced by improvements to traditional activities including longer harvest seasons to better use industry capital and the development of new or alternative products and markets,” Dr Twine.

“Environmental benefits will be realised from the development of varieties that rely less on applied chemicals to control pests and from the creation of a renewable source of biodegradable end-products.

“And the wider community, including the Northern NSW coast, will benefit from an enhanced and more sustainable sugarcane industry.”


For further information: Nigel Tapp (02) 6620 3039 or 0418 431 484