T H E   W H I T E   H O U S E

President, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Help Site Map Text Only

Introduction by John H. Gibbons


President, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Thank you, John. This afternoon we will conduct the second portion of the session on Social and Economic Integration: Building Capacity in Emerging Markets.

The panelists include Jean Fran‡ois Rischard and Shirley Malcom. Unfortunately, Bruce Alberts is not well enough to join us. He has been released from the hospital and is recovering from a bout of viral pneumonia. Fortunately, he is recovering well. His paper will be available tomorrow, characteristic of Bruce: while in his hospital bed, he prepared a paper, to be distributed tomorrow.

To introduce this session, I shall use biotechnology as an example, to address the cross- cutting questions we were provided: The balance between international science and technological cooperation and pursuit of competitive advantage to achieve policy objectives and the roles of agencies. I will briefly set the background of the biotechnology industry, and show how it is emerging as a major component of industrial development.

About 40 years after Watson and Crick's seminal paper on the structure of DNA, from which the stones were laid, constructing the path to commercial genetic engineering, and 20 years after the experiment of Stanley Cohen of Stanford, and Herb Boyer of the University of California at San Francisco Medical School, whereby they and their teams succeeded in producing the first recombinant DNA, the first United States biotechnology company, Genentech, was founded in 1976. Just 18 years later, more than 1,300 other companies in the United States.

In 1982, the first recombinant DNA pharmaceutical, Eli Lilly's recombinant human insulin, was approved for sale in the United States and in Great Britain and sales of this product has reached $600 million. The rate of increase of European companies is equally dramatic. In 1994, United States biotechnology companies had a market value of $41 billion and employed about 100,000 employees. And this is an industry that did not exist 20 years ago.

Europe's 360 biotechnology companies are located primarily in Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. From 1986 to 1992, about $600 million was pumped by venture capitalists into the European biotechnology industry. There are also nascent biotechnology firms in developing countries that are beginning to play a role at the international level.

In developing countries, government researchers provide the resource for the companies that are being formed. For example, the International Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, the formation of which was originally stimulated by UNIDO, is now supported by Italy and India and comprises two laboratories, one in Trieste and the other in New Delhi. The Hong Kong Biotechnology Research Institute, and the International Vaccine Institute in South Korea are examples of Asian initiatives in biotechnology.

A major problem to be addressed is the population increase expected by the year 2000. One way to meet the demand for food supplies is to utilize the newly emerging economic sector, marine biotechnology, notably aquaculture.

Aquaculture offers an example that fits perfectly to the subject of this two-day conference. The maximum sustainable harvesting of fish from the world oceans has been estimated to be 100 million metric tons. A few years ago, approximately 90 million metric tons were harvested, dropping to 80 million metric tons. In contrast, the projected need for the expected increased populations and its demand for seafood, is somewhere between 135 and 165 million metric tons. That is a serious mismatch a gap that has to be filled.

Aquaculture will have to close that gap. At the present time, aquaculture harvests are about 14 million metric tons worldwide, with a market value of approximately $28 billion.

The serious problem we face is that the oceans are nearly fished out. March 1994, Newsweek reported on regions of the world where fisheries are at risk. Pollock and cod harvests are declining. In fact, the Grand Banks have been closed to fishing cod and haddock, both having been decreed "commercially extinct." Recently, Canada and Spain have exchanged gunfire over Grand Banks fishing. The tragedy of the oceans has been described in an article in The Economist also the New York Times.

What can be done? Genetic manipulation of marine organisms, and successful production of transgenic fish are the first steps. Transgenic fish were produced several years ago, whereby the growth hormone gene was introduced from trout into carp, and the result was a faster-growing carp, achieving approximately a third larger size. This is significant, becaust closed, highly mechanized culture of fish (as with poultry), will provide a more efficient way of rearing fish to meet the growing international demand for seafood.

Another aspect of biotechnology application for industry and international security is in controlling disease. In Ecuador, roughly 40 percent of the gross national product is shrimp export. Severe disease problems mainly virus but also bacterial infections are causing severe drops in shrimp harvests. This translates into serious economic and employment problems in that country.

Production of biotechnology-based vaccines for fish offers at lease two benefits: use of antibiotics and drugs decreases significantly. In Norway, where the second most important export is fisheries--second to oil, gas, and minerals--the increase in fish harvests has been dramatic with the use of vaccines. . . a biotechnology application that has benefitted the industry and society.

Commercially important species of fish are being raised in captivity in many states, including Maryland. This is achieved by determining the hormone(s) that stimulates production of eggs and sperm. A synthetic hormone, similar but more active than the natural hormone, and resistant to degradation was produced by Dr. Zonar and his colleague.

These changes and others that time prevents from describing here address the issue of declining world fisheries resources and expand opportunities to use the bounty of the ocean.

I would like to address very briefly education, because it is a major component of the ability to achieve a new world economy, to be addressed more fully by Dr. Rischard. Education is a topic that would have been addressed by Dr. Alberts, were he able to have joined us here today.

In earlier talks, Dr. Alberts has outlined what he views as essential science education partnerships: K-12 and precollege teachers and scientists from research laboratories and industry working closely together, with maximum partnering to improve science education, together with volunteer scientists and engineers in partnership with outstanding science teachers in every school district.

The major function of these partnering teams is to serve as a decision-making body that integrates the efforts of outside groups who are working locally to assist and improve science education in the schools to mobilize and unify them so that there is direction to external support provided for science education. The second function of this partnering team is to provide strong, local, political support for continued, improved science education. Dr. Alberts has listed three very important requirements for science education to revitalize our nation's schools: having thousands of informed local scientists and other citizens as effective volunteers, allowing for continuous improvement through the wisdom of the best teachers being applied to school systems' science programs, and developing a large cohort of young scientists well prepared as full-time precollege teachers. Dr. Malcom will address education, especially the role of women in science education.

A new concept of public education in science and technology, as espoused by Dr. Alberts, is provided by the Columbus Center, located in Baltimore, Maryland, on the Inner Harbor a new science teaching resource center. It comprises a cutting-edge research laboratory, and also a major exhibition and teaching area for local school children, as well as a site for workshops for industry. It is a user-friendly, interactive science center with research scientists interacting with school children, both in teaching as well as in demonstrating the process and excitement of science.

The topic that we address in this panel is the total system a holistic approach to national security-- including the economic sector and education.

I now introduce Jean Fran‡ois Rischard, who has served as Vice President of Finance and Private Sector Development in the World Bank since 1993. He is responsible for organizing a new central vice presidency, covering the development of a private sector and a financial sector, as well as the Bank's strategy for energy, industry, mining, and telecommunications. He has informed me that he is "high on telecommunications."

vMr. Rischard joined the World Bank in 1975 and has held several positions with responsibilities for financial policies related to the Bank's overall assets and liabilities management. In mid-1989 he took over as Director of the Investments Department, with responsibility for trading the $25 billion liquid assets portfolio of the World Bank.

He is truly an international citizen, a national from Luxembourg, with Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Marseilles, a J.D. from Luxembourg, and an M.B.A. from Harvard, about as international as one can be!

A topic he will be discuss is telecommunications. One of the developments that is occurring is linking to provide real-time teaching, a process being developed in several institutions, including the Maryland edicatopm suste, for joint partnering in education and research through telecommunication.

Jean Francois Rischard
Return to Forum Homepage

President and First Lady | Vice President and Mrs. Gore
Record of Progress | The Briefing Room
Gateway to Government | Contacting the White House
White House for Kids | White House History
White House Tours | Help | Text Only

Privacy Statement