The White House’s Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) recently released The National Bioeconomy Blueprint–a plan laying out the measures the government intends on taking to apply breakthrough biological research and addressing the nation’s challenges in health, food, energy and the environment.
In the government press release, President Obama’s science and technology advisor and the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, John P. Holdren, explains the government’s goal and reasoning:
“The life sciences have proven to be a remarkably vital source of economic growth, and today they promise further game-changing advances in a wide range of commercial sectors. This administration is committed to accelerating these advanced and ensuring that Federal agencies and private entities work together to bring the benefits of the bioeconomy to market as quickly as possible.”
The 43-page blueprint goes into the history of bioeconomy in America and how the government’s strategic objectives will strengthen the American bioeconomy. Here’s a quick 411 on everything you need to know about the The National Bioeconomy Blueprint:
What is bioeconomy? Bioeconomy is the “economic activity powered by research and innovation in the biosciences.”
Why is bioeconomy important? The OSTP explains in their blog that we need bioeconomy because
“a more robust bioeconomy can enable Americans to live longer and healthier lives, develop new sources of bioenergy, address key environmental challenges, transform manufacturing processes, and increase the productivity and scope of the agricultural sector while generating new industries and occupational opportunities.”
What are the benefits? Simply put, the alleged benefits are three-fold: Bioeconomy will create jobs, improve the health of Americans and help make the planet a greener place with a clean-energy future.
What is the government’s plan? There are 5 measures the American government will be taking to facilitate a strong bioeconomy:
- To invest in research and development in fields such as physics, chemistry, engineering, computer sciences, and mathematics by offering rewards
- Help commercialize bioinventions by taking them from the laboratory to the mainstream marketplace
- Develop and reform regulations to protect human health and the environment
- Reform national training programs to ensure national workforce needs are met and that unemployed Americans can qualify for job openings in the bio-field.
- To support collaborations that would pool resources, innovations and technology
Is investing in biological research profitable, or even a smart decision? According to the government: Yes. In the executive summary of the blueprint, an example is cited of how profitable biotechnology can be. The blueprint shares that according to the USDA, genetically modified crops brought in $76 billion in 2010 and industrial biotechnology brought in $100 billion.
What’s the catch? While the plan sounds perfect on paper the main question skeptics are raising is: Can (and will) this blueprint really be implemented to create a cleaner energy and a consumer market that relies less on petroleum-based products?
If you think establishing a strong bioeconomy is only on the mind of the American government, think again! The American government isn’t the only government looking into strengthening their bioeconomy. Earlier this year the European Commission came up with their own bioeconomy strategy. That being said, the two strategies cannot be compared since the European plan focuses on sustainable industrial processes while the American plan encompasses all bio-based industries.
Photo by Sarah Ackerman