Why “Tiger King” is more than a pandemic distraction

May 26, 2020
We’re starting a short but busy week with a new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast about why “Tiger King” couldn’t have come at a better time. (And it’s not what you think.) And did you have a socially distanced barbecue yesterday? We take a look at how biotech may have…

We’re starting a short but busy week with a new episode of the I AM BIO Podcast about why “Tiger King” couldn’t have come at a better time. (And it’s not what you think.) And did you have a socially distanced barbecue yesterday? We take a look at how biotech may have made your food healthier and taste better. Here’s today’s news in 800 words, about 4 minutes.

Why “Tiger King” is more than a pandemic distraction

“It’s a cautionary tale,” said BIO President and CEO Jim Greenwood in the latest episode of the I AM BIO Podcast.

We’ve refrained from talking about “Tiger King” in this newsletter—but it’s “a symbol of the wider problems that we have that are causing pandemics,” explains podcast guest Catherine Machalaba, Policy Advisor at EcoHealth Alliance, which researches emerging infectious zoonotic diseases. 

Back up. How did we get to this new reality in which we’re all glued to this show? We know the coronavirus originated in an animal—most likely a bat, as the EcoHealth Alliance previously explained—and humans’ increased interactions with animals in the wild and in captivity make us more susceptible to a pandemic caused by a zoonotic disease.

“We know there are about 1.6 million viruses in mammals on Earth, so having a sense of what’s out there is really important,” said Catherine. 

SARS was an early warning to boost international preparedness and coordination, she said, but as the COVID-19 pandemic shows, we’re still unprepared. 

“The value of prevention is invisible,” she continued. “The cost now of not taking action is so visible in our daily lives, and we really need to act to prevent that in the future.” 

One Health policies can help, so we can better understand how everything on the planet is interconnected and even see early warnings about future pandemics. 

So, what do we do now? “Reversing this existential threat will require better environmental stewardship, compassion for living creatures, and better global cooperation to monitor infectious disease outbreaks so we can mitigate future threats,” said Jim. 

Listen at www.bio.org/podcast or wherever else you get your podcasts, including Apple, Google, and Spotify

Learn more about the importance of One Health.


More Health Care News: 

Reuters: Novavax launches its first coronavirus vaccine test on humans
“The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said that 10 experimental vaccines were being tested on humans, including the Novavax compound.”

STAT News: Merck leaps into Covid-19 vaccine race, aiming to test two different candidates this year
“Merck, one of the largest vaccine makers in the world, is entering the Covid-19 arena with an announcement on Tuesday it is developing two different vaccines for Covid-19 and is also licensing an oral drug that might treat the virus.”

The New York Times: Federal scientists publish remdesivir data
“Remdesivir shortened recovery time from 15 days to 11 days in hospitalized patients. The study defined recovery as ‘either discharge from the hospital or hospitalization.’”

1 MINUTE WITH MICHELLE: How will you foster collaboration to advance science?
1 Minute with Michelle: How will you foster collaboration to advance science?

The benefits of gene editing, from BBQ to berries

If you enjoyed a barbecue or a batch of particularly delicious summer berries over the holiday weekend, you can thank biotech—and specifically, gene editing, says Innovature

We owe much of our food to generations of plant breeding, which has helped make everything from summer corn to winter squash more delicious, nutritious, and resilient in the face of pests, disease, and climate change.   

Now, we can make our food system more resilient thanks to gene editing, which is basically the same process as old-fashioned plant breeding, just more efficient and precise. 

Here are just a few benefits of agriculture gene editing—and, in particular, how this biotech improves your favorite summer food:

  1. Pest and disease resistance, like summer peaches resistant to brown rot and livestock that’s protected from disease.
  2. Climate-proofing and weather-proofing crops, like high-yield rice that’s more resilient in the face of threats.
  3. Producing higher yields with fewer pesticides and inputs, including less water, which can be in short supply in the summer.
  4. Increased nutrition, like higher fiber in wheat and better starch quality in corn, so you never feel bad about indulging at the cookout.
  5. Reducing food waste. Your mushrooms, apples, and potatoes won’t brown as quickly, so you can always be prepared for a last-minute picnic. 

Why it matters: Biotechnology like gene editing has huge potential to feed the world and support rural economies with healthy, sustainable crops. However, overly burdensome regulations and misinformation keeps many of these products from the market. BIO’s continuing our work on ag biotechnology regulations and communications to ensure consumers and farmers benefit from all biotech has to offer. 

Learn more about the latest developments on USDA’s plant biotech regulations and how biotech can make food more plentiful, nutritious, and sustainable at www.bio.org/growing-trust-innovation.

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Tuesday: On Sunday, the Trump administration delivered a national coronavirus testing strategy to Congress, though it’s drawing criticism, particularly from Democrats. Today, he’s swearing in the new National Intelligence Director, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), then giving remarks at 4 PM ET on how to protect seniors with diabetes.   

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House and Senate are in recess. When they get back, there’s a lot to work on—but the pandemic has “jumbled the House agenda,” says POLITICO, as Congress needs to tackle appropriations, defense policy, and, of course, the virus.

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