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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.


your continued defense of the nuclear industry and refusal to acknowledge the clear dangers - makes your posts present and future decidedly "ungreen."
You forgot to capitalize "Green".  I don't hew to Green policies or politics.  But when I balance the possibility of some transitory radioactive contamination against the certainty of massive climate shifts that will, among other things, inundate many of the most fertile lands around the world (lowlands and river deltas) amounting to a lot more than 3% of Earth's land area... I pick the former.

Besides, these are one-time events.  Nobody will ever build another RMBK reactor; there will never be another Chernobyl.  The GE BWR with the Mark I containment has been history for decades; the plants at Dai'ini and Onagawa, just a few years of updates ahead, handled the quake and tsunami with aplomb.  The AP-1000 and S-PRISM are designed for passive cooling.  Even the current troubles have a death toll of exactly ZERO.  Such amazingly small consequences given everything that went wrong is a very strong argument for more nuclear power.  It's the greenest thing we've got going.



Of 7 URLs, only 2 reputable news organizations, none formatted as proper clickable hyperlinks and ZERO quotes of relevant material.

That's not an argument, it's obfuscation.


What's "reputable" in the reporting of a nuclear reactor failure when General Electric, the company that built the reactor, also owns many of the news organizations reporting it?


The conversation has strayed rather far away from the bioeconomy blueprint that is the focus of the article. So my attempt to steer it back is this question: Does this "Bioeconomy Blueprint" support the heavyhanded control that DOW/Monsanto show when they can sue a farmer for incidental usage of GMOs when it wasn't even planted by him? Personally I think that the farmer should be able to sue the GMO crop originators for damage to his crop, but the opposite holds true. I surely don't want this type of activity to be upheld by the current administration because it unfair, and ultimately monopolistic. Should they be taken on as anti-competitive and monopolistic? I think so, as well as any laws that make it illegal to publicly report issues in the industry - as the beef producers have gotten passed in several states.


Eletruk, I agree re Monsanto should be recipient of suits - from the US DOJ for antitrust activity.

Back to Fukushima - a far worse problem unfortunately. According to a "reputable" news source the New York Times:

"The [reactor 4] spent fuel rods pose a particular threat, experts say, because they lie outside the unit’s containment vessels. Experts have become especially worried in recent weeks, as earthquakes continue to hit the area, that the damaged reactor building could collapse, draining the pool and possibly leading to another large leak of radioactive materials."

Defending this level unmitigated nuclear disaster can only be explained as a mental illness.


Who's defending it, Reel?  We're just saying that it hasn't killed anyone yet, and seems rather unlikely to even if worse comes to worst.

Can you imagine another design where hydrogen from one reactor causes an explosion in the building of a different one?  Neither can I.  Given that the only designs for new construction these days are passively safe, it's a good bet that another such accident would be impossible.

Clearing the debris and putting that fuel in dry casks would get rid of the collapse problem.  Empty it and drain it, then it can collapse all it wants.


How much money did it take to get nuclear power to the point where we can say "that it hasn't killed anyone yet" ???


If you want to compare civilian fatalities per dollar, nuclear looks a heck of a lot better than coal, natural gas or just about anything else out there.


Clearly EP knows better than all of TEPCO and international specialists who don't have a clue how to "empty it, drain it..."


Have they so much as used thermite to cut up tangled steel, and magnetic grapples to remove it?

At least they did design a cover for Unit 1 and get it successfully installed.  I find nothing about removing spent fuel to dry casks beyond some talk back to last June that this is desirable.  That would have been one of the first things on my agenda.


Had you bothered to comprehend the NYTimes article you would have groked:

"The internal investigation also found current radiation levels of 72.0 sieverts inside the drywell, enough to kill a person in a matter of minutes, as well as for electronic equipment to malfunction. The high readings could be a reflection of the low water level, since the water acts as a shield against radiation.

The high levels of radiation would complicate work to locate and remove the damaged fuel and decommission the plant’s six reactors — a process that is expected to take decades."

“With levels of radiation extremely high, we would need to develop equipment that can tolerate high radiation,” Junichi Matsumoto, an executive at Tepco, said Tuesday.

i.e. They can't even get a robot in there because the radiation destroys the electronics.

BTW, the fed's cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear site in WA is now 40 years old and not scheduled to be completed til 2040. The cost of environmental damage is conservatively $$150 BILLION.

"The internal investigation also found current radiation levels of 72.0 sieverts inside the drywell
Had you grokked the term "drywell" you would have realized that that is inside the reactor containment, not in the spent-fuel pool and especially not above 15 feet of water for gamma-ray shielding.

Electromagnets are made of iron laminations and copper windings.  Radiation doesn't do a whole lot to them.

“With levels of radiation extremely high, we would need to develop equipment that can tolerate high radiation,”
There are plenty of ways to defend electronics from radiation, including shielding.  It takes very little material to stop beta radiation such as produced by Cs-13.  Fiber optics can put electronics, including cameras, away from the radiation field.  Good old fashioned commutator or stepper motors simply don't care if they're being bombarded by gammas or neutrons.  Neither do air cylinders, at least until the seals go brittle.


Oh, fudge, got to kill the italic.


EP, you are obviously the only person who knows how to fix the Fukushima disaster. Shall I call them up and inform them the savior has arrived?

Roger Pham

I was of the opinion that had there been backup electricity right after the battery was out of juice, perhaps the meltdown could have been prevented. I wondered right after the accident that why TEPCO did not ask the US military bases in Japan to fly in several diesel field generators via Chinook helicopters to provide power right away? TEPCO tried to build a power line to the damaged reactor week later, but by then, it was too late. If large-size diesel generators were not available in Japan, perhaps they could have been flown in from the USA via C-17 transport planes and then brought to the site via heavy-lift helicopters. Even the 12 hours delay for a plane trip from the US to Japan may not have been too late.


Roger, if I'm not mistaken the switching panels for the power to the pumps were located in the same area as the diesel generators.

In the basements.

Which were flooded.

I wouldn't bet on any organization having the flexibility to create a disaster plan out of thin air in a crisis.  I doubt that any company TEPCO's size or bigger would have done much better in a situation which called for an ad-hoc response; the failure was in failing to plan.


The lesson is clear.

The US should not build nuclear power plants on a Japanese coast where there is a high chance for combined earth quakes and tsunamis unless you make some simple improvements to avoid the huge loss of life from the combined earth quake and tsunami. . . . Um, wait.

Do we assume that the 20,000 fatalities can be apportioned, with almost 7,000 attributed to Fukushima?

Do we assume Fukushima would have happened without both the earth quake and the tsunami, and the 20,000 fatalities happened because of Fukushima?

We need less paperwork and less obstruction and streamlined approvals.

And isn't this National Bioeconomy Blueprint three years late?

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