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BIOTECHNOLOGY HAS THE power to improve human health, address environmental challenges, and change the way the world does business.

A new OECD report, 'The Bioeconomy to 2030: Designing a Policy Agenda', examines the role of biotechnology in the global economy over the next two decades and outlines policies that could maximise its benefits. Already biotech-based drugs provide greater health advantages than their traditional counterparts. By 2015 virtually all new drugs, about half of global production of the world’s major crops and an increasing number of everyday products (e.g. food additives, plastics, fuels and detergents) will be produced using biotechnology.

New crop varieties under development could increase global food production while requiring less water, pesticides, and fertilisers. From less than one per cent today, biotechnology could contribute to up to 2.7 per cent of the GDP in OECD countries by 2030, and considerably more in non-OECD countries. However many barriers stand in the way of the development and commercialisation of biotechnologies. These include technological challenges as well as regulations, adequate investment, human resources, social acceptance, and market structures. To boost innovation and competitiveness, policies for the bioeconomy need to align private sector incentives with public goals such as good health and reduce the cost of regulation, particularly for applications in agriculture and industry.