Position papers

White Biotechnology: Clean, sustainable and white…

Executive summary

White biotechnology has tremendous potential to transform energy production and lead to more sustainable industrial processes. It can play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gases, the use of fossil fuels and raw materials, leading to cleaner and greener industries. In sourcing raw materials from agriculture, white biotech can additionally contribute to a more competitive European agriculture, compliant with world trade rules, which is environmentally sustainable.

White biotechnology has been in industrial use now for two decades as laundry detergent enzymes; it has also been used to make penicillin and an alternative to animal-derived insulin as well as to produce many vaccines and medicines.

The technology seems to enjoy public acceptance. Certain non-governmental organisations (NGOs) even accept these applications because of their unobtrusive and environmentally friendly nature.

This potential is especially valid for Europe, with its ambitious environmental targets and highly critical public opinion.

Most of the world’s white biotech industry is European, and Europe’s sizable chemical industry (29% of the world market) – a key beneficiary of biotech derived processes - is on a par with the US.

Yet the potential of white biotechnology is almost unknown to European policymakers and remains largely untapped. In the US however, a substantial set of stimulating measures have already been in place for several years.

In this paper, a small group of highly innovative companies, all members of EuropaBio wish to focus the attention of European Institutions on this little known but very interesting technology. Our stated purpose is to share our expertise and work closely with the Commission to aim for a more sustainable and competitive industrial development of Europe.


We are now familiar with the application of modern biotechnology in medicine and agriculture: so-called red and green biotechnology. There is less general awareness of the white variety: the use of biotechnology for industrial applications.