Monday, December 15, 2014

Perhaps a new technological revolution in the biological technologies.

Journey of Homo innovaticus since the dawn of agriculture 
highlighting recent advances in technology and bioscience.
This graph, shows both the rate of world population growth and the rate of invention in biotechnologies. The left hand portion shows the prehistoric domestication of key species in thousands of years BC and AD.

It was drawn from a post by Timothy Taylor in his blog, Conversable Economist. It originated in an article by William Hoffman in Global Policy. I quote the complete abstract of that article:
Arising from its roots in the US, biotechnology today is a global enterprise. Cutting-edge tools are transforming traditional models of drug discovery and development and diagnostic testing. They are enabling the potential for large scale production of renewable fuels, biodegradable materials, safer industrial chemicals and food crops grown under harsh conditions. The practice of technological innovation in the industrial era – the systematic application of ideas, inventions and technology to markets, trade and social systems – is now being joined with the code of life through rapid DNA sequencing and synthesis technologies. The pace of bioscience innovation is also influenced by geographic concentration of research, entrepreneurship and investment (clusters). Policy makers are just beginning to consider and debate the implications of the new biological technologies: the promises they hold for global public health, natural resource conservation, and economic growth, and the risks they pose from their power and accessibility around the world.
Of course, the potential in this technology will not be easily achieved. We know that people are frightened by many of these technologies, and that there will be a huge job of educating the public as to where the real risks are and which perceived risks are simply due to misperception.

Some of the benefits of this innovation will be available to all without adaptation, such as vaccines for globally endemic diseases. Others, such as improved crop varieties will need local capacity to adopt to local needs; these will often require development in poor countries, which have less developed scientific and technological capacity. Some of these technologies potentially beneficial for developing nations will have to be invented in those countries, and for that purpose the capacity will have to be greatly strengthened.

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