What the Ag Secretary said about biotech

September 23, 2020
We were already convinced about the potential of biotechnology to help us solve climate change and feed the world—but Day 2 of BIO IMPACT Digital got us even more excited about what's ahead for the industry. Need to catch up? Head to the BIO IMPACT Digital Live Blog or…

We were already convinced about the potential of biotechnology to help us solve climate change and feed the world—but Day 2 of BIO IMPACT Digital got us even more excited about what's ahead for the industry. Need to catch up? Head to the BIO IMPACT Digital Live Blog or follow the conversation at @IAmBiotech

Today, we've got the highlights from the keynote with the Ag Secretary and more thoughts on biobased products and sustainable fuels, plus your D.C. news, in around 860 words, 4 minutes, 15 seconds.

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What the Ag Secretary said about biotech

Novozymes’ Brian Brazeau, president of the company’s North America region and VP of the global bioenergy business, moderated yesterday’s keynote with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The conversation touched on USDA’s innovation agenda, the role of government regulation, and how biotech will feed the world. Highlights below. 

On the food supply chain during the pandemic: “The resilience of the American food supply to a large degree is dependent on the miracle of innovation for the last 90 years, of which biotechnology was a huge part,” said Secretary Perdue. “So frankly, we were in a position of resilience coming into it.”

On being proud of U.S. biotechnology: American agriculture has “a great story to tell” regarding the safety, nutrition, affordability, and sustainability of our food. “We need to tell the story proudly and loudly about the tools that we're using,” he added. 

On the role of government:

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue: The role of government is to facilitate technological advances and not hinder them.

On biotech’s ability to feed the world: “I'm totally confident that through biotechnology and our great producers out there we'll be able to feed those 10 billion people by 2050,” he concluded. 

Brian’s response:

Novozymes' Brian Brazeau: Innovation has driven transparency.

Read the whole recap.

Get more highlights and share your thoughts on Twitter at @IAmBiotech.

A few more things you might have missed…

“We have to monetize it.” Gevo CEO Patrick Gruber said there must be “solid metrics” and measurements as well as incentives in policy to drive adoption of sustainable fuels. California's low-carbon fuel standard and the EU's renewable fuels policy have been catalysts for the industry. (Learn more about Gevo in this episode of the I AM BIO Podcast.)

Consumers are demanding more sustainable products, said Danimer Scientific CEO Stephen Croskrey. Despite a higher retail price, the company’s biodegradable straws are selling around 8x faster at Walmart than they thought they would.

“As an industry, when we come together, good things happen,” said Doug Cole, Director of Marketing & Biotech Affairs for Simplot Plant Science, explaining how USDA’s Part 340 rule has led to a clearer path to get biobased products to the market.

We presented Sharon Bomer Lauritsen with BIO’s Leadership and Legacy Award. The former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Agricultural Affairs and Commodity Policy (and past leader of BIO’s Food and Agriculture Section) is the first woman to receive the prestigious award.

More News:

The Washington Post: FDA poised to announce tougher standards for a COVID-19 vaccine that make it unlikely one will be cleared by Election Day
“The agency is issuing the guidance to boost transparency and public trust as it approaches the momentous decision of whether a prospective vaccine is safe and effective.” 

USA Today: Data, data, and more data will make a coronavirus vaccine safe, USA TODAY's vaccine panel says
“Trusting science—and the scientific process—is the best way out of this pandemic,” said BIO's President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath. 

Utility Dive: Trump veto of House clean energy bill likely as Ginsburg replacement fight complicates Senate bill's path
“Members of Congress were hoping to squeeze out their respective chambers' energy innovation bills by the end of the year, but between the White House's intent to veto and an expected fierce battle over the now-vacant Supreme Court seat following the death of Ginsburg on Friday, a path forward is less certain."

ICYMI: From North Carolina to the world

While we’re all a bit disappointed we couldn’t go to Raleigh, BIO IMPACT Digital participants got the chance to experience North Carolina’s bioeconomy from anywhere in the world with our Bioeconomy Virtual Tour Program.

BIO IMPACT Digital Virtual Tours - Sneak Peek!

On Monday, attendees visited BASF and Syngenta RTP greenhouse facilities, while on Tuesday, they explored Novozymes and NC State’s Food Innovation Lab

“We are going to see a tie-in of nutrition from breeding programs to the plate. There will be unique opportunities for animal and plant breeding and processing that liberate nutrition and make foods better for everyone," said Dr. Bill Aimutis, Executive Director of North Carolina Food Innovation Lab. 

"North Carolina, in particular, is in a position to be the leading state in the country as far as food and nutrition technology,” he concluded. 

Did you miss it? BIO IMPACT Digital participants can still access both tours from the BIO IMPACT Digital Hubb.

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Wednesday: Honoring the Bay of Pigs veterans, then meeting with state attorneys general on protecting consumers from social media abuses.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: RBG will lie in repose at the Supreme Court today and tomorrow. House Oversight announced they will hold two days of hearings next week with pharmaceutical company executives on drug pricing.

We also have an update on government funding. Last week, the Trump administration was rumored to be considering providing $300 million in aid to refiners with funds from within USDA—a plan denounced by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In response, the stop-gap deal would prohibit financial aid to oil refiners that have been denied biofuel waivers. It also prohibits the Commodity Credit Corporation or USDA from “providing payments or otherwise supporting fossil fuel refiners and importers,” according to a summary of the bill.

In the meantime, several hearings today:

10:00 AM ET | Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee: COVID-19: An Update on the Federal Response

10:00 AM ET | House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health: Health Care Lifeline: The Affordable Care Act and the COVID-19 Pandemic 

11:00 AM ET | House Science Subcommittee on Investigations & Oversight: Data for Decision-Making: Responsible Management of Data During COVID-19 and Beyond

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