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National bioeconomy strategy launched in US
At the end of April 2012, the White House released the „National Bioeconomy Blueprint“, a strategy to guide U.S. authorities in promoting the uptake of the bioeconomy. The proposed actions include removing regulatory barriers, strengthening specialised training and education, improving research and development, accelerating market uptake of biotechnology processes and further engaging in public private partnerships.
The “Blueprint” accredits the bioeconomy with a huge potential to create manufacturing jobs and promote rural development and innovation. Biobased, biodegradable plastics from biomass are explicitly mentioned in the strategy as an innovative biobased product that will have a major impact on sustainable development.
The “Blueprint” received praise from biotechnology industry representatives for its general strategic approach. However, it was also criticised as “adding nothing new” to existing government support programmes. In February 2012, President Obama had already announced an overhaul of the US “Biopreferred programme” for federal public procurement. A procedure for designating intermediate materials and feedstocks is to be added to the programme. Furthermore, a procedure for designating biobased assembly products that, due to their complex composition, cannot be tested for biobased content in the laboratory will also be developed. These points were once again taken up in the “Blueprint” but no (preliminary) results have yet been presented.
NGOs also expressed scepticism regarding the benefits of potentially harmful new genetically modified organisms, and concerns were raised about the (potential) negative impact of the bioeconomy on biodiversity, food scarcity in developing countries, land erosion and the destruction of rain forests.
The “Blueprint” and accompanying documents can be downloaded here:
More info on the Bioprefered programme: www.biopreferred.gov