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Obama Administration releases National Bioeconomy Blueprint; health, food, energy and environment

The White House today released a national Bioeconomy Blueprint, a comprehensive approach to harnessing innovations in biological research to address national challenges in health, food, energy, and the environment. In coordination with the Blueprint’s release, Federal officials also announced a number of new commitments to help achieve the Blueprint’s goals.

The National Bioeconomy Blueprint describes five strategic objectives for a bioeconomy with the potential to generate economic growth and address societal needs. Although progress is being made in all of these areas, according to the Blueprint, much work remains if the United States is to remain competitive. The objectives are:

  1. Support R&D investments that will provide the foundation for the future US bioeconomy. Coordinated, integrated R&D efforts will help strategically shape the national bioeconomy R&D agenda, the Blueprint notes, urging efforts to 1) expand and develop essential bioeconomy technologies; 2) integrate approaches across fields; and 3) implement improved funding mechanisms.

  2. Facilitate the transition of bioinventions from research lab to market, including an increased focus on translational and regulatory sciences. A dedicated commitment to translational efforts will accelerate movement of bioinventions out of laboratories and into markets, the Blueprint says. This will include accelerating progress to market; enhancing entrepreneurship at universities; and utilizing Federal procurement authority.

  3. Develop and reform regulations to reduce barriers, increase the speed and predictability of regulatory processes, and reduce costs while protecting human and environmental health. Improved regulatory processes will help rapidly and safely achieve the promise of the future bioeconomy.

  4. Update training programs and align academic institution incentives with student training for national workforce needs. Federal agencies should take steps to ensure that the future bioeconomy has a sustainable and appropriately-trained workforce.

  5. Identify and support opportunities for the development of public-private partnerships and precompetitive collaborations—where competitors pool resources, knowledge, and expertise to learn from successes and failures. Federal agencies should provide incentives for public-private partnerships and precompetitive collaborations to benefit the bioeconomy broadly.

Decades of life-sciences research and the development of increasingly powerful tools for obtaining and using biological data have brought us closer to the threshold of a previously unimaginable future: “ready to burn” liquid fuels produced directly from CO2, biodegradable plastics made not from oil but from renewable biomass, tailored food products to meet specialized dietary requirements, personalized medical treatments based on a patient’s own genomic information, and novel biosensors for real-time monitoring of the environment.

...The growth of today’s US bioeconomy is due in large part to the development of three foundational technologies: genetic engineering, DNA sequencing, and automated high-throughput manipulations of biomolecules. While the potential of these technologies is far from exhausted, a number of important new technologies and innovative combinations of new and existing technologies are emerging. Tomorrow’s bioeconomy relies on the expansion of emerging technologies such as synthetic biology (the direct engineering of microbes and plants), proteomics (the large-scale study and manipulation of proteins in an organism), and bioinformatics (computational tools for expanding the use of biological and related data), as well as new technologies as yet unimagined. There is also a set of emerging trends in recent research that foreshadow major advances in the areas of health, biological-based energy production, agriculture, biomanufacturing, and environmental clean-up.

...On September 16, 2011, President Obama announced that his Administration would release a National Bioeconomy Blueprint as part of his commitment to supporting scientific discovery and technological breakthroughs to ensure sustainable economic growth, improve the health of the population, and move toward a clean energy future Modeled after the Administration’s 2011 Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future,9 this 2012 National Bioeconomy Blueprint has two purposes: to lay out strategic objectives that will help realize the full potential of the US bioeconomy and to highlight early achievements toward those objectives.

—National Bioeconomy Blueprint

In coordination with the release of the Bioeconomy Blueprint, a number of commitments supportive of the Blueprint’s goals were released by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and the Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. Among them are initiatives to encourage Federal procurement of an expanded range of bio-based products; to take better advantage of large pharmaceutical data sets to speed drug development; to apply the latest genomics discoveries to quickly identify emerging microbial threats; and to accelerate research on non-embryonic stem cells as possible treatments for blood-related and neurological diseases.



"In the late 1970s, the Department of Energy pioneered massive hydraulic fracturing, a completion technique that would be improved upon for the economic recovery of shale gas in the future." Jimmy Carter through the DOE.

The weird part about politicians promoting scientific activity is that they will never get any credit for doing it. Because (especially in the US) people are generally opposed to change, since their control organizations have vested interests. Thus politicians only ever get criticism for supporting scientific endeavours. In addition, it typically takes years for these things to come to fruition.

It's very easy in the world of uneducated followers to stand and criticize anyone who would hope to change the way we do things(and thus garner political attention for ones self). These criticizers are often taken as correct, even in the future, since not all research, by it's nature, works and produces a product, and even when it does, it is sometimes so far down the road that no one remembers where it started. Indeed, I have seen it in industry and and academia where when doing very basic work there are individuals who proclaim the low probability of succeeed regarding projects not of interest to them or important to their careers. Because, in fact, most basic research does not succeed in producing a tangible product, these neighsayers appear to be correct to the less than technical business guys/bean counters, who are not capable of evaluating technical projects or capable of evaluating technical individuals. They do know who appears to be correct most of the time though. The guy that says "that will never work" alot. He's correct most of the time.


Well said B4.


VERY well said.

It reminds me of how quick the Wrong Wing were to jump on Obama for the failure of Solindra (and others) when the plan from the begining was to cast a wide net, knowing in advance, that some investments would fail to bear fruit.


The problem with that theory is that Obama's own advisors indicated that the company was headed for failure. But he threw them a half billion dollars of our (my) money, because he wanted to reward his supporters.

Thank God he'll be gone after January.


Because of our country's economic unbridled freedoms, those big money interest will always conrol the way we eat, drink, breath, work, move, and play. Obama's plan is to take tax-dollars and give them to anyone who contributes to his campaign to make something better through bioengineering. But, it sounds like an election-year campaign trik to me.

What we need is more solid laws governing the way money makers affect our lives. Junk-foods, junk-beverages, beef and pork should all be either illegal or highly regulated. Natural; foods should be grown natually. We have one of the worst health records in the world and it is directrly tied to the food we eat. Yet, we don't even talk much about it. It gets worse year after year and by even considering more biofuels, we are putting our food sources in greater jeopardy. We need a mobilization program like we had in 1941-1943 to revise our transportation system completely away from fossil fuels. The future lies in natural energy made from the many inexaustable sources available and that is only direction we should be taking. As long as the corporations get to decide, we will greatly stall the direction we should be taking.


Solyndra first came into the picture during the Bush administration, when it was one of just 16 firms found eligible for several billion dollars available in the Energy Policy Act of 2005's guaranteed loan program. What's more, the Energy Policy Act, which the Bush administration used to promote Solyndra, was passed by the same committee under the leadership of Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) that now demands to know how half a billion taxpayer dollars were squandered.

"Because one of the Solyndra investors, Argonaut Venture Capital, is funded by George Kaiser — a man who donated money to the Obama campaign — the loan guarantee has been attacked as being political in nature. What critics don’t mention is that one of the earliest and largest investors, Madrone Capital Partners, is funded by the family that started Wal-Mart, the Waltons. The Waltons have donated millions of dollars to Republican candidates over the years."


Well said AV.


The scandal of Solyndra is that the administration figures in charge of the program signed papers to put the US taxpayer at the last priority to be repaid if the company went bust.  That had nothing to do with casting a wide net, and everything to do with funnelling money to chosen winners.


About time he had a plan.

But now we know this is just words.

This time he has a record.

Before, he voted present and apparently thought that as president he should do the same.

Oh, and there is still time to take credit for the Keystone pipeline.


Solyndra is peanuts compared to the money invested in far greater boondoggles like hot fusion - 60 years, $200 BILLION - not one useable watt of energy for the taxpayer.

The alternatives supported by the Administration have been in large part successful and getting more so. We see good progress in cellulosic, batteries, solar and wind. The President is to be congratulated for having vision to pursue these alternatives. However we are less than enthusiastic about restarting fission reactor permitting. Fukishima is proving to be a far greater disaster than generally acknowledged:

"Last April levels of radioactive iodine-131 were found to be 5 million times the legal limit in seawater near the plant, while levels of cesium-137 were detected 1.1 million times the legal level, in a report by Yale’s e360, which noted that both these elements “can be absorbed by phytoplankton, zooplankton, kelp, and other marine life and then be transmitted up the food chain, to fish, marine mammals, and humans.”

The full extent of damage and danger is vastly underplayed at this stage. Not a healthy or pragmatic approach to the energy issue.


It seems that what is right or wrong depends on what side of the political fence you are on? That's a lot like racial and/on religious discrimination? When will we be mature enough to see facts as they are.


What Reel doesn't tell you is that I-131 has a half-life of 8 days.  A year later, roughly 46 half-lives have passed and the amount of I-131 is now 1/2^46 (roughly one seventy-trillionth) what it was then.  That's before dilution.

Cs-137 hasn't decayed nearly as far, but it is still diluted.  The levels will fall below concern relatively shortly, probably by the time waterfronts are rebuilt.


The problem with Iodine-131 is that it has a biological half-life of 138 days, which is much longer than its radiological half-life of 8 days. So if it does get inside you essentially all of its radiation is deposited inside the body.


A year later, roughly 46 half-lives have passed and the amount of I-131 is now 1/2^46 (roughly one seventy-trillionth) what it was then. That's before dilution.

Question: What about the food chain? Could it counter dilution and half-life by concentrating what remains?


If the food chain can manage to concentrate the remaining stuff by 2x every 8 days (which means about an 8-day lifespan for anything that eats it), if you started with enough to cause cancer in 10 billion people you'll end with enough for about 1/1000 of a person after a year.


The 2010 report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Ionising Radiation (UNSCEAR) concluded that

“the current balance of available evidence tends to favour a non-threshold response for the mutational component of radiation associated cancer induction at low doses and low dose rates.”

As scientific understanding of the effects of ionising
radiation has advanced, permitted dose limits have been
dramatically reduced. For workers, the permitted annual
dose has decreased from 500 millisieverts (mSv) in 1934
to 20 mSv in 1991.

Pretending Fukushima is anything but a major disaster and threat to the safety of millions - is merely a narrow conclusion in support of the nuclear agenda.


If fission power is such a hazard due to a couple of large releases (the likes of which are never to happen again due to the irreproducibility of circumstances and retirement of susceptible designs), then the every-day emmissions of radium, radon, radon daughters and uranium and thorium in the gas and particulate effluent of coal plants is a much greater hazard.

the current balance of available evidence tends to favour a non-threshold response
But not for illness.  We know the linear no-threshold hypothesis is bogus, because a 3x dose increase from a move to an area of sedimentary rock to granite does nothing.


Another question: Do we know if the Fukushima reactors have stopped releasing I-131, Cs-137? Have they plugged the leaks yet?


@ ai_vin

- western press reports minimize the continuing problems at Fukushima. This clip from RT News suggests the level of radiation has increased in reactor 2 to ten times the lethal dose. And that TEPCO robots have failed to operate at these dangerous radiation levels. Look at the video:


And our good South of the Border neighbors refused to buy our low cost very clean hydro power because it is supposedly not clean enough. We had to install 2000+ high cost wind turbines to make our clean hydro power more acceptable. Guess where all those foolish objections came from? Who had and still have an agenda or had financial revenues/profits to protect? The South of the Border coal producers association was and still is one of the main road block.

There is something wrong in the land of the free, when higher cost dirty coal fired power plants are chosen over cheaper very clean hydro e-power?


Reel is even funnier.  The levels inside the reactor are high?  Just how high do you think they are when the unit is running properly?


(of course, if you were inside the reactor when it was operating, or even the upper containment, the heat would kill you before the radiation could.)


My question remains: Are the Fukushima reactors still leaking?


EP - your continued defense of the nuclear industry and refusal to acknowledge the clear dangers - makes your posts present and future decidedly "ungreen."

Are the Fukushima reactors still leaking?
News is that the 3 Dai'ichi reactors have been in cold shutdown since December.  TEPCO has been cooling the reactors with recycled water for months now.  The news about leaks is down to sporadic leaks from failed pipes or valves.  The most recent reference I can find is to a page at NHK's web site that's now 404.  The citation mentions "leak" but no quantity or other details.

When it's down to things like that, it's not a serious environmental problem any more.

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