Hillary Clinton may be holding her cards close to her vest about running for president but she is adamantly bullish about biotechnology. Speaking to an overflow luncheon audience earlier this week at the Biotechnology Industry Organization's annual conference, this year in San Diego, Clinton warned that U.S. biotech companies will move overseas if the financial system that supports them does not change.
“I don’t want to see biotech companies or pharma companies moving out of our country simply because of some perceived tax disadvantage and potential tax advantage somewhere else,” she told biotech's true believers.
Clinton pointed out that biofirms operate in an extremely risky investment and business environment. They are often in danger of running out of money, and there's always the chance that their key product may fail in clinical trials. She's in favor of setting up a national committee of leading scientists and regulatory professionals to lessen these risks. Clinton urged the top biotech states to move forward on this issue but maintained that the federal government must continue to play a key part here as well.
“States have a role to play but we need a national framework,” she told the BIO attendees.
Clinton went on to point out that as U.S. Secretary of State she was a major proponent of genetically engineered seeds, especially drought-resistant ones. She added that one of her official programs was to encourage people in Africa to use GMOs to grow their own food. But she did advise against using the term genetically modified.
“Genetically modified sounds Frankensteinish. Drought resistant sounds like something you'd want,” she explained.
As Clinton spoke a group of anti-GMO food protesters marched outside the convention center. In response, Clinton said, “I stand in favor of using seeds and products that have a proven track record and are scientifically provable to continue to try to make the case to those who are skeptical. There is a big gap between the facts and what the perceptions are.”
Turning to climate change, Clinton chastised the press for giving equal weight to climate change deniers when reporting on the topic.
“The debate is settled. What is not settled is what we are going to do about it,” she said.