“I believe in science”

September 22, 2020
Day 1 of BIO IMPACT Digital was so good—especially all the speakers taking an unequivocal stand for science and the role biotechnology can play in making our world more equitable and sustainable. Here’s what we learned yesterday, plus what’s happening in D.C., in…

Day 1 of BIO IMPACT Digital was so good—especially all the speakers taking an unequivocal stand for science and the role biotechnology can play in making our world more equitable and sustainable. Here’s what we learned yesterday, plus what’s happening in D.C., in around 900 words, 4 minutes. 

P.S. Today is National Voter Registration Day. To check your voter status or polling location and get information on the candidates and issues, visit www.bio.org/vote.

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What we’re watching today: At 10 AM ET/7 AM PT, we'll hear from U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Novozymes NA President Brian Brazeau. Don't miss this afternoon's session on biobased manufacturing (2 PM ET/11 AM PT) with USDA Deputy Administrator for Rural Business-Cooperative Service Mark Brodziski and industry speakers like Genomatica, followed by a conversation on how to clean up the air (3 PM ET/12 PM PT) featuring Gevo and Neste. We close the event with fireside chats with our George Washington Carver and Rosalind Franklin award winners (4 PM ET/1 PM PT). 


“I believe in science”

Yesterday afternoon, BIO’s Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath moderated an interactive plenary, Delivering Justice Through Science. Sponsored by Cargill, the session featured women biotech leaders discussing how smart policy and science can improve health and wellness for all.

For starters, businesses need to prioritize diversity and inclusion. Dr. Jill Zullo, Vice President of Bio-Industrials at Cargill, said the company is aiming for 50% of leadership to be female and 20% to be U.S. minorities by 2030. 

And we need to prioritize STEM education and mentorship. “As early as fourth grade, girls and minorities opt out of STEM,” Dr. Zullo explained. We need more mentors who are women and minorities for science students.

Science can also help us eliminate disparities, by reducing the distance from the farm to the table and improving the nutrition of our food, said AquaBounty Technologies CEO Sylvia Wulf. Example: AquaBounty Technologies' nutritious, sustainable Atlantic salmon, which is better for the environment and consumers.

There’s a big role for agriculture and the biobased economy. “I believe that agriculture can lead in this space right now,” said U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), “designing the kinds of solutions to deal with climate change that both create revenue for farmers, create jobs, and tackle what is right in front of our face right now in terms of the climate crisis.”

But we need policy that supports science:

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI): "I believe in science."

Dr. Michelle’s Diagnosis: Government and industry have an opportunity—and an obligation—to work together in the face of threats to our economy, our families, and our way of life. At BIO, we believe that science makes progress possible. And if science delivers progress, then access to science delivers justice. – BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath


Let’s be transparent—and proud

That was the message from Gingko Bioworks CEO Dr. Jason Kelly during a session called Securing a Resilient Bioeconomy, sponsored by Amyris.

COVID-19 presents an opportunity to show “how biology is a better way to do things,” he said. “It’s a better way to manufacture things. It’s how we’re going to get out of this crisis with things like vaccines and testing.”

The industry should be transparent about the technology and proud of it. “We’re proud of engineering and synthetic biology. We’re proud of GMOs,” he said. “We want consumers to say, I don’t want my product made with traditional industrial manufacturing—I want it grown. And when I know it’s made with a GMO, I know it was grown.”

The bottom line: “Our footing should be pride in the technology and sharing it with other folks,” he concluded.

Want more Dr. Kelly? Catch the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast, where he talked about the latest synbio developments, what it really means to “print” DNA, and why he’s inspired by Jurassic Park

Want to know more about synbio and what’s ahead for the bioeconomy? Read the full session recap or watch this video about a scientist at Amyris:

I am BIO: Amyris

A few more things you might have missed…

AquaBounty Technologies CEO Sylvia Wulf says diversity is good for business.
The time is now for a federal clean fuel standard in the United States—but to be successful, U.S. policymakers need to look to models that are working around the world, said Laura Lonza, Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate General Climate Action (DG CLIMA).

Animal biotech regulation needs modernization, agreed speakers at a session on One Health. “Otherwise, we will lose our place as an innovation leader as a country,” said Elena Rice, Chief Scientific Officer of Genus PLC.

The private sector has a key role to play in building a more resilient, sustainable world. “No matter who is in the White House and who controls the Senate in the next few years, it’s going to take the power of the private sector to drive that change,” said Jennifer Morris, CEO of The Nature Conservancy.


More News:

The Wall Street Journal (Opinion): You can trust the FDA’s vaccine process
“We reject the claim that a vaccine EUA inherently falls short of FDA’s gold standard review, or that the process will be hijacked,” said former FDA Commissioners Dr. Scott Gottlieb and Dr. Mark McClellan. “We also reject the idea that the FDA’s professional staff can be cowed by outside influences.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Tuesday: Heading to Pittsburgh, PA, for a rally, while VP Pence campaigns in Gilford, NH. 

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House is expected to vote on the Democrats’ stopgap spending bill today, but this sets them on a “collision course” with the Senate to fund the government in nine days, says The Washington Post.

A few hearings of note today:

10:30 AM ET | House Committee on Financial Services: Oversight of the Treasury Department’s and Federal Reserve’s Pandemic Response (Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell)

12:00 PM ET | House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources: Trump Administration Broken Promises on Renewable Energy

2:30 PM ET | Joint Economic Committee: The Economic Impact of America’s Failure to Contain the Coronavirus

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