What if the key to the best antibiotic or cancer treatment is hidden at the bottom of the ocean or the depths of a jungle? Could a blockbuster bioproduct be based on species in the Arctic or right under our feet? How can we know if these plant and animal species can adapt to climate change? Which are the necessary public policies and governance models to benefit socially, environmentally and economically from such solutions?
This panel brings together leaders in bioproducts, a field tackling the climate and environmental challenges of today and tomorrow. Bioproducts refer to products created from materials found in nature. The 2020 McKinsey report titled “The Bio Revolution” supports that the development of these technologies in the next 20 years could have a global economic impact of up to $4 trillion per year. Although biofuels and other industrial bioproducts are already being used by industry, new technological discoveries are showing that the possibilities are much broader. Harvesting plant and animal species from which medicinal drugs, biochemicals, and other commercially valuable material can be created – a process called bioprospecting – is the new frontier. British Columbia and Canada as a whole has comparative advantages and could become globally competitive, yet the full potential of bioproducts has yet to be harnessed. Policy action is required to unlock the potential so Canadians can enjoy the benefits of the products themselves and of the economic development they can create.
Looking at examples and solutions at the local, national, and international level, in the private, public, and not for profit sectors, and in Western and Indigenous knowledge systems, the panel will have an engaging and deep discussion around the use of genomics and how Canada can utilize these technologies for a better future. Lastly, public perceptions will be discussed and specifically how the uptake of these technologies can be done in an equitable and responsible manner.