Federal Government

US Senator Richard Burr from North Carolina was a keynote speaker at the recent Ag Biotech Summit, hosted by the North Carolina Biotech Center. Senator Burr was tasked with the unenviable topic of Marshaling Resources from the Federal Level. Burr gave this synopsis of the federal government’s financial situation:

“I’m not sure what to tell you other than to say that we are broke. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know but I’m not sure that America understands how close to the edge that we are. It’s not just the big numbers that you hear and cant relate to, it’s not just $16 trillion in debt. It’s about the fundamentals that have to change. It’s about the short term, the interim term and the long term. If you ask someone in Washington what a fiscal cliff is, you will get 535 different definitions of it. My definition is whatever day the international capital markets require the US to pay more to finance our sovereign debt. As soon as that interest obligation goes up on the US, we have eliminated all of our options.”

So, the challenge now is:

“The challenging thing in Washington now is to show fiscal restraint, prioritization of where our investments are made. And at the same time, begin the reforms that I think most Americans mathematically would agree have to be made over the long term.”

So, given Burr’s feelings that there will be little to no money from the federal level for biotechnology, the federal government’s role is a bit different:

“I am not an advocate of frequent changes in laws and institutions. But laws and institutions must advance to keep progress with the human mind. It’s the technological progress that has happened over the last several decades, and this emergence and conversion of ag and biotechnology. And the challenge for us is to understand that US policy has to reflect that change. US policy must create an incentive for collaboration, business to business and business to academia. Collaboration is global just like the economy is global.”

We’ll hear more tomorrow from US Senator Richard Burr on biotechnology.

For more from the BioTech Summit click here.

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