WEF triples down: they’re going to save humanity with their synthetic biology!


  • At the intersection of an ageing population, climate change and environmental degradation lies the bioeconomy, increasingly underpinned by advances in synthetic biology.
  • Biological innovations have the potential to address 45% of the world’s current disease burden and to produce 60% of our physical inputs into the global economy in the next 10-20 years.
  • Dr. Jenny Molloy explains what the ideal bioeconomy policy agenda could look like.

The bioeconomy covers all sectors and systems that rely on biological resources (animals, plants, microorganisms, and derived biomass, including organic waste) as well as their functions and principles. It includes and interlinks economic and industrial sectors such as food, health, chemicals, materials, energy and services that use biological resources and processes.

It is anticipated that the world will face increased competition for limited and finite natural resources given a growing population, increasing pressure on our food and health systems, and climate change and associated environmental degradation decimating our primary production systems.

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Synthetic biology is an emerging field which applies engineering principles to the design and modification of living systems, thus underpinning and accelerating technological advances with clear potential to provide impact at scale to the global economy. Manufacturers are turning towards this method to efficiently produce high performance, sustainable products.

A recent McKinsey report anticipates applications from this bio revolution could have a direct global impact of up to $4 trillion per year over the next 10-20 years, enabling production of 60% physical inputs to the global economy, and addressing 45% of the world’s current disease burden. However, for synthetic biology applications to reach their full potential, it’s critical to ensure that access and development of knowledge in this sector, along with the relevant research tools, are distributed in low resource contexts. This can help to avoid the technology being centered solely in advanced, resource rich economies and widening inequalities in the global bioeconomy.…


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