Former Secretary of State and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who gave a 65-minute keynote appearance at the 2014 BIO International Convention on Tuesday, June 24, said she supports genetically modified organisms and possible federal subsidies to keep U.S. companies from leaving for tax shelters abroad.
Concerned that the United States could start losing biotechnology companies if the system fails to change, she discussed possible incentives to keep biotech companies in the US. Speaking to thousands of people at the San Diego Convention Center, Clinton said she understood the "high-risk, high-reward" nature of the industry and that she hoped for a way for the federal government to help biotechs with "insurance against risk." She added that without such subsidies, "this is going to be an increasing challenge. ... I think we should have that kind of intensive discussion."
Clinton said that she did not 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 favors the formation of a national committee of science leaders and regulators to create a kind of "insurance policy" to reduce risk while encouraging the states to take the lead on this issue. She cited California's funding of stem cell research when the federal government was not doing it, but she is in favor of a "national framework" to address biotech policy.
Of GMOs, 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." Clinton said when asked about her stance on GMOs. She promoted drought-resistant seeds while fighting food insecurity in Africa, adding, "By definition, they have been engineered to be drought-resistant." Clinton thinks the debate about GMOs could be favorable to biotech if the benefits were better explained, but she lamented the gap between state and federal efforts on behalf of biotech.
In a salon-type conversation with Jim Greenwood, the CEO of the Biotech Industry Organization and a former Republican congressman from Pennsylvania, Clinton got questions about biotech policy as well as foreign policy, women's roles and climate change. She discussed global warming, challenges posed by China, the negotiations with Iran and the situation in Iraq.
Clinton spoke at one of many meetings held at the conference, which ran from June 23 to June 26. The 2014 BIO International Convention, which connects the people, companies and innovations that help to fulfill the promise of global biotechnology, concluded Thursday, June 26. The event, which was hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), drew 15,667 industry leaders, including nearly 2,500 CEOs, from 50 states and 70 countries.
According to its website, the BIO exhibition, the world's largest biotechnology gathering, enables exhibitors to reach high-level executives and influential decision makers who come to BIO to discover new players in the industry, form partnerships and evaluate emerging technologies. The BIO Exhibition features more than 1,700 exhibitors and covers approximately 180,000 square feet. The exhibition also includes more than 60 state, regional and country pavilions who in turn host many companies from their regions.
Conveniently organized by product focus, the exhibition includes companies in the Digital Health Zone, Innovation Zone, BioProcess Zone, Bio IT Zone, Business Services Zone, Contract Services Zone, and Discovery Zone. In 2014 the BIO Exhibition will host thousands of organizations including the leading biotech companies, top 25 pharma companies, top 20 CROs and CMOs, more than 300 academic institutions including the major research labs and government agencies and the leading consultants and service companies.