Good Day BIO: Task force says we must invest in the U.S. bioeconomy
December 6, 2021
A task force says the U.S. bioeconomy can help us address climate change and “capture the lion’s share” of a $4 trillion industry, but we have to invest in it. Meanwhile, it’s Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, and we explain why patients’ stories matter even for…
The only newsletter at the intersection of biotech, politics, and policy
December 6, 2021
A task force says the U.S. bioeconomy can help us address climate change and “capture the lion’s share” of a $4 trillion industry, but we have to invest in it. Meanwhile, it’s Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, and we explain why patients’ stories matter even for widespread diseases. (713 words, 3 minutes, 33 seconds)
Task force says we must invest in the U.S. bioeconomy
The U.S. bioeconomy can help us reach net zero and “capture the lion’s share of what is projected to be a $4 trillion global industry”—but we need to invest in it, says a new report from the Schmidt Futures Task Force on Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy.
The U.S. is “the world’s biotechnology powerhouse,” says the report, “generating nearly $960 billion in economic activity in 2016, about 5 percent of U.S. GDP, with more than half of the total generated outside the biomedical sector.”
“Over the next two decades or less,a well-developed bioeconomy has the potential to transform manufacturing processes to use renewable biomass rather than petroleum to make the products of modern society," the report continues, which would "reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels, revitalize U.S. manufacturing and employment across the nation, create a more resilient supply chain, improve the nation’s health, and contribute significantly to the goal of creating a net zero greenhouse gas economy.”
However: “decentralized leadership, inadequate talent development, insufficient investment in both fundamental research and developing bioprocessing infrastructure, and international competition put the United States at risk of forfeiting that world-leading position and squandering the entrepreneurial drive and capital market interest that is trying to expand the bioeconomy.”
The task force recommends the U.S. government “commit to remaining the global leader in biobased science and scale up manufacturing” with investments including:
“Establishing and funding a 5-year, $600 million Bioproduction Science Initiative (BSI) that expands budgets and remits of relevant science agencies.”
“$1.2 billion in an extensive and flexible bioproduction infrastructure—one that can process multiple feedstocks using multiple organisms to produce multiple products at multiple scales—over two years to expand domestic bioproduction capacity in an equitable and strategic manner.”
Establishing “creative public-private partnerships with the goal of reducing the time it takes to successfully scale new products from several years to months.”
What is it? “Known collectively as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are painful, medically incurable diseases that attack the digestive system,” explains the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.
These diseases affect 1.6 million Americans—and while there’s no cure (yet), if properly diagnosed, treatments are available to ease symptoms and improve the patient’s quality of life.
“The disparity in the space of Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis for people of color is that they're not diagnosed,” she said. “And usually when they're diagnosed at these moderate, severe states, they're not even offered a drug that could actually help them have a better quality of life.”
This is why patients’ stories matter—listen to the whole episode via Apple, Google, or Spotify.