NASEM report details threats facing bioeconomy, recommends action to safeguard US

January 23, 2020

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) has set out to address the core risks that currently threaten the United States' bioeconomy with the release of their report Safeguarding the Bioeconomy. While the U.S. is currently leading the bio economic playing field, NASEM warns that the nation must be aware of the challenges from decentralized leadership, inadequate talent development, cybersecurity vulnerabilities, stagnant investment in fundamental research, and international competition if it hopes to continue its success. The report recommends steps the U.S. could take to mitigate these risks and sustain a strong bioeconomy, including forming a coordinating body within the Executive Office of the President to ensure coordination across the science, economic, regulatory, and security agencies.

NASEM defines the bioeconomy as the "economic activity that is driven by research and innovation in the life sciences and biotechnology, and that is enabled by technological advances in engineering and in computing and information sciences." As such, a committee that authored the report valued the bioeconomy at more than 5 percent of GDP, or more than $950 billion.

With the bioeconomy being a major driver of scientific discoveries, NASEM makes additional recommendations to ensure its success beyond its suggested government-wide strategic coordinating body. It says talent development at all levels should be a high priority for investment, and recommends attracting and retaining scientists from around the world. It recommends the U.S. place a high priority on investing in basic biological science, engineering, and computing and information sciences; guard against the loss of intellectual property; invest in modernization and integrity of biological information databases; and, address the erosion in support for U.S. government investment in fundamental research.

The full report is available here.

bioeconomy, policy recommendations