The US government released its outline for a bio-based economy on Wednesday, March 22nd, effectively completing one of the prerequisite tasks for the Biden administration’s national biostrategy.
Among the report’s highlights are the need to decarbonize chemical and material manufacturing, develop additional forms of carbon-neutral transportation, introduce more sustainable practices to the agricultural sector, and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Maximizing Land Use
Dr. Asmeret Asefaw Berhe of the Department of Energy pointed out one of the possible solutions in terms of more sustainable agriculture. More than 200 million acres of fallow land throughout the United States could be used for the production of carbon-negative feedstock that could eventually be used to make other useful materials.
Another expert, Dr. Karama Neal of the Department of Agriculture, emphasized the need to speed up research regarding climate-smart feedstock to secure the country’s food supply. Such feedstock could also be used as a basis for any biologically-derived materials and chemicals.
Biomanufacturing in the USA
Another goal presented in the report is for the United States to produce at least 30% of its chemical demand through more sustainable and cost-effective biomanufacturing methods within a 20-year period.
This may sound formidable and even daunting, but Solugen CEO Gaurab Chakrabarti says this is achievable, especially with government support. Chakrabarti added that the government has already supported similar initiatives with solar power, electric vehicles, and the development of more environment-safe fuels, so why not offer similar support for the development of such methods?
He went on to say that this could be the way to make the shift from petrochemicals to more ecologically sound bio-based chemicals and that it is possible that the country’s overall need for petrochemicals would begin to decrease in the next few years.
Cell-based Therapies are in the Cards
Cell-based therapy was another topic presented in the report, and the goal is to decrease the production cost for these vital but expensive medical modalities within 20 years.
Considered one of the most ambitious goals under the strategy, this needs the concerted effort of all relevant government agencies and active technology transfer among various industrial sectors.
According to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Acting Principal Deputy Director Tara Schwetz, there is a need to prioritize the development of technologies that can improve the overall efficiency of cell-based therapies, specifically those involving biomaterials, nanomaterials, as well as synthetic biology.