May 1, 2006 (Vol. 26, No. 9)

Bill Clinton Calls for Definitive Move to Biofuels

In a luncheon speech at last months BIO Conference in Chicago, former President Bill Clinton said that two of biotechnologys main tasks in the immediate future will be to continue to improve food production and to come up with novel energy solutions.

&#8220The first obligation of society is to feed its people,&#8220 noted Clinton. &#8220Biotechnology can help us feed more people while addressing environmental concerns such as global climate change.&#8220

Citing his Administrations support of the development of biotech crops and the creation of science-based regulations, Clinton explained that biocrops &#8220reduce inputs, allow us to grow more food on less land, and easily transfer technology to people in the developing world.&#8220

Clinton further tied the issues of food production and global warming together by pointing out that advances in agbiotech will be important because if the climate continues to change, &#8220we will see a continued erosion of the top soil, more dust storms, and, in the Northern Hemisphere, agricultural production being pushed North and the Southern Hemisphere being pushed South.&#8220

He also told the audience that &#8220the most important thing [that] you can do is to give us a different energy future.&#8220 He called climate change and global warming &#8220the only existential security threat we face&#8220 since they will bring drastic changes to everyones way of life.

&#8220Just in the last six months we have seen an avalanche of evidence that the ice caps all over the world are melting quicker than we thought; that the climate is warming more rapidly than we thought; that extreme weather events are picking up. In the last decade, insurance losses from extreme weather events were three times what they have been in any previous decade since the advent of insurance as a global system. So we have to deal with this.&#8220


Clinton stressed that it was important for biotech to develop a wide range of alternatives to both reduce the rate of global warming as well as to cut the human contribution to it &#8220by restricting greenhouse gas emissions.&#8220 The Former President believes biofuels are the way to go.

&#8220We need to move to a biofuel future based more on cellulistic fuels than corn, which is a principal contributor to ethanol now. Why? Because the conversion ratio is better. If the goal is not only to have clean fuels but to reduce greenhouse gases, then you want stuff thats lying around anyway, that you didn’t have to burn oil to produce in the first place. And theres all kinds of agricultural waste that can be used. Theres wood waste thats lying around.&#8220

He also maintained that the move to a clean energy future would reverse the declining wages trend in America because it would be driven by high job growth in the private sector.

&#8220Ninety-two percent of the new jobs that came into being in the United States when I was President came in the private sector. We actually reduced the size of the Federal government to the size that Eisenhower had when he turned the government over to President Kennedy. So youve got to have a source of private sector growth.&#8220

Ultimately, Clinton believes that biotechnology can replace energy as the main source of new jobs &#8220because it will take us about a decade to reach the full implications of the sequencing of the human genome, so that we will be able to apply it to all kinds of diseases and conditions, develop vaccines, develop preventive strategies, and produce all kinds of products and services that we never even dreamed of before.

&#8220But first weve got to get the energy thing right.&#8220

The Former President sees a huge role for biotech in healthcare. For example, he views the rapid growth in obesity rates among young children as an extremely serious problem that is not being properly addressed.

&#8220The explosion for the first time in our history of Type II diabetes, what we used to call adult onset diabetes, [is taking place] in our children. Now there are many reasons this happened. For one thing, food is still a great bargain in America. In some ways, some of you farmers in the audience may have done your job too well.&#8220

Responding to Clintons speech, Nalini Motwani, Ph.D., president and founder of ApoLife (, said she liked his passion for biotechnology and globalization and how he interconnected the science, humanity, and taking care of poverty in Africa&#8212all in one topic. &#8220He is very effective in convincing an audience about his vision.&#8220

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