Fuel for thought

February 24, 2020
We’re starting the week looking at two of humanity’s biggest challenges right now: climate change and the coronavirus. Luckily, biotech has solutions for both. We’ve got the scoop, plus a look at what’s happening on Capitol Hill this week, in about 830 words, or just…

We’re starting the week looking at two of humanity’s biggest challenges right now: climate change and the coronavirus. Luckily, biotech has solutions for both. We’ve got the scoop, plus a look at what’s happening on Capitol Hill this week, in about 830 words, or just over 4 minutes.

Fuel for thought

A few weeks ago, we launched the I AM BIO Podcast—and today, we’ve released a new episode, Alternative to Flying Dirty, about the next generation of sustainable aviation fuel. 

BIO CEO and podcast host Jim Greenwood talks about the need to decarbonize transportation—starting with aviation, one of the planet’s biggest polluters. 

But he says we don’t necessarily need to resort to “flight shaming.” Sustainable aviation fuel—and specifically, a new clean-burning plant-based “gasoline” produced with no carbon footprint—is revolutionizing the industry. 

In the podcast, you’ll meet two experts: Vera Pardee, Senior Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, who calls for low-carbon fuel initiatives around the world and fewer flights, and Pat Gruber, CEO of GEVO, who's company is working to create cleaner jet fuel using renewable plant material and genetic engineering.

Why it matters: “If aviation were a country, then the total emissions of aviation in a year would be larger than the emissions of the entire German economy,” said Pardee, urging listeners to think about whether they really need to take a flight. “And what’s really concerning is that the emissions are projected to triple by 2050.” 

But: Biotech can help people continue to move around the world, explains Gruber, whose company is using renewable materials and plant-based waste to create cleaner jet fuel that’s already been picked up by Delta.

Where to listen: Visit www.bio.org/podcast or listen and subscribe on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify, or wherever you get your podcast fix.


More Agriculture & Environment News:

POLITICO PRO [Subscription]: USTR negotiator attacks EU food import restrictions
“The top U.S. agriculture negotiator on Friday vented his frustration over European Union regulations and statements that brand American food as ‘unsafe,’ predicting difficult trade talks ahead.”


What the industry’s doing to combat the new coronavirus

The coronavirus has now infected more than 77,000 people around the globe and is “picking up steam” outside China, reports STAT. Meanwhile, it's also threatening shortages of about 150 drugs, says Axios.

Barely two months into the new decade, we’re already facing what will surely be one of the defining health challenges of the ‘20s.

But the biotech industry is stepping up in innovative ways to find a vaccine or cure, which we highlight in our new COVID-19 hub on our website.

To counter the threat, the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry is working closely with U.S. government agencies, Chinese authorities, and the World Health Organization to identify the most pressing needs in the areas of vaccination, diagnostics, and antivirals and other treatments, and to facilitate collaborations with industry. 

Here’s a snapshot:

  • At least a dozen companies have begun or accelerated development of vaccines and antiviral therapies.

  • leading biopharmaceutical company is working with Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to develop a vaccine using a platform it currently uses to make a licensed influenza vaccine.

  • cutting-edge biotech company, with support from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), is developing a new coronavirus vaccine. CEPI is working with other industry leaders to accelerate the development of a vaccine.

  • A biotech innovator in partnership with NIH and CEPI is working to rapidly develop a vaccine using mRNA technology with hopes of beginning human tests in the coming months.

  • Numerous antiviral drugs, such as HIV drugs, are being repurposed and have entered clinical trials to test for efficacy and safety against COVID-19.

  • Work previously done on medical countermeasures (MCMs) against coronaviruses including SARS and MERS are being tested against COVID-19.

This is a priority for us. Over the next several weeks, or as long as is needed, we’ll update you on the coronavirus and the latest industry-wide efforts to combat it. And be sure to head to BIO.org/events for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 and our events.

Is your company doing something? There’s no effort too great or too small when it comes to this deadly disease, and we’d love to hear what you or your industry colleagues are doing to fight it. Send us the details and we’ll feature as many as we can.


More Health Care News:  

Forbes: Sanders wins in Nevada and ‘Medicare For All’ lives another day
“Sanders, declared the victor by several news outlets Saturday night, won in the same week his Medicare proposal was attacked by several of his rivals for the Democratic party’s nomination for President at a Las Vegas debate.”

The Wall Street Journal: Stalled initiatives to cut drug prices frustrate Trump
“The lack of a major success is needling Mr. Trump, who has become frustrated without a signature accomplishment on drug pricing, according to people familiar with the matter. He has taken to task Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive tasked with driving down drug prices.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Monday: The President and First Lady are in India for an official visit. They stopped by the Gandhi Ashram earlier today, then he spoke at a “Namaste Trump” rally in Ahmedabad, his largest rally to date. Then, off to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal. #bucketlist

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The Senate is back today, and the House meets again tomorrow. Later this week, HHS Secretary Alex Azar will testify in front of two House committees on the budget request, while the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia will hold a hearing on the coronavirus.

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