The coronavirus pandemic has shown that biology and the economy are tightly linked. A new Washington Watch column in BioScience, Policy for Bioeconomic Growth, discusses the policy implications of growing and safeguarding the bioeconomy. Below is an excerpt.
â€œPolicymakers around the world increasingly look to biology to strengthen economies and promote national security and well-being. But what is the bioeconomy, and how can policy promote its growth?
According to a 2020 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report, in 2016, the US bioeconomy was estimated to account for 5.1 percent of US gross domestic product (GDP), or $959.2 billion, with the potential to grow to 7.4 percent.
Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) had identified bioeconomic innovation as a research and development priority. The Obama administration released the National Bioeconomy Blueprint in 2012. In 2019, the OSTP reraised the profile of the bioeconomy and asked the scientific community to suggest actions to strengthen it.
The article also emphasizes the importance of digitized collections in navigating global crises such as pandemics. Strengthening the bioeconomy is increasingly important, particularly given escalating ramifications of global health and environmental problems. Coordinated networks of digitized biological collections and large biological and environmental data are needed to tackle these problems.