Bioeconomy to Impact Socioeconomic Changes
By: Dr. Syed Aijazuddin
The bioeconomy refers to the economic/commercial activities based on the application of biological organisms, systems or processes, so to say, biotechnology. It has huge potential to impact major socioeconomic changes in the world.
To-day world’s economy is facing a range of social and economic challenges, due to rising income and population. It will increase demand for healthcare, natural resources, agricultural and industrial products. Biotechnology with its immense potential can provide opportunities for sustained economic growth.
The economic contribution of biotechnology will be more profound through international cooperation and technological competitiveness as its economic perspective entails comprehensive and judicious applications in every sector of economy that will influence emerging business models with the opening of economies of the world.
According to Steve Burrill, President and CEO of Burrill & Co at BIO (Biotechnology industry organization) conference, May 2010 in Chicago, USA, “those in the industry were fortunate to be alive at this time, when all current world problems -- climate change, sustainability, energy security, food production and security, and healthcare reform could be tackled, if not solved by biotechnology”.
Based on the present trends, it is estimated that in a few years time approximately half of global production of the major food crops is likely to come from genetic engineering. Another socio economic issue of increasing elderly populations will increase the need for therapies to treat chronic diseases.
Biotechnology has potential to improve the cost-effectiveness of diagnosis, prognosis and treatment, will significantly improve health and the quality of life.
Increase in energy demand, at the same time measures to reduce greenhouse gases, could create large markets for biofuels and other alternative renewable chemicals.
The global population is expected to reach 7 billion, with over 90% of the growth occurring in developing countries. GDP is expected to grow at a higher rate in developing countries than developed countries. These trends in population and income, combined with rapid economic growth of China and India, indicate that the main markets for biotechnology and bioeconomy will impact the socioeconomic changes.
Today’s global biotechnology market is estimated to be more than $200 billion. The medical/healthcare segment is around 70% of the market’s overall value. The service provider segment’s contribution is 14 % or so and agriculture biotech represents only 3% of the total revenue.
The emerging bioeconomy’s success is not guaranteed without governments’ policies, and social attitudes as it will be influenced by government’s support, regulations, and social acceptance to have significant socioeconomic benefit.
So far, the biotechnology has not over whelmed the economy, the scope and scale of the role of the biotechnology in almost every aspect has revolutionized and benefited economy in no uncertain terms and future has tremendous potential, albeit, the science of ethics asks us to justify our actions and account for our intentions. It is not enough just to intend the good but to do something to bring it about to have meaningful socioeconomic impact.