The biotech folks really know how to put on a show. They spared no expense and pulled out all the stops to conduct the 2011 Biotechnology International Convention in Washington, D.C. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair keynoted the event, the theme of which was “Creating a Positive Political and Social Environment.”

Blair urged all governments to rely on proper science in dealing with biotech issues. He alluded to several battles he faced with various groups over such matters in his former post as prime minister.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization is leading a major charge to make biotech innovation a national priority in as many countries as possible. Social and political roadblocks are the biggest hindrances to bringing new products to the marketplace. The latter often takes 10 to 15 years. Consequently, investors often cannot risk funding, particularly start-up companies, and biotech initiatives are often doomed before they have a chance to succeed.

There is no question that biotechnology helps save lives, reduces greenhouse emissions and helps feed the world. But getting that story told is another matter. To expand on biotech accomplishments, the group has developed its first five-year plan “to create a biotech friendly regulatory and political climate” wherever it can.

This far-reaching initiative involves:

  • regulatory reform
  • capital formation proposals
  • increased investment in biotech research
  • new progressive approval pathways

BIO President Jim Greenwood points out that the biotech industry has made major strides in a number of significant areas. These include biotech crops helping feed millions of consumers around the world; assisting less privileged farmers in third world nations; combating deadly diseases by creating treatments and cures, and conserving resources and reducing pollution through biofuels and bio-based products.

More than 15,000 registrants traveled to the nation’s capital for BIO’s global event of the year. One of three attendees came from outside the U.S. There were super sessions, breakout sessions and special side programs combining for more than 125 presentations. In addition, more than 1,700 companies touted their latest innovations during a major biotech exhibition.