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“Brexit Is the Impetus to Reinvigorate”: The Advanced Bioeconomy, Resilience, and a New Role for the Commonwealth?

Submitted by on April 12, 2018 – 9:37 amNo Comment

by Jim Lane (Biofuels Digest)  … CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting) delegates will hear quite a bit about blockchain, gene editing and about proteins for the food chain and as an advanced material. There’s a mighty focus around the Commonwealth on the convergence of computation, materials science and life sciences, and Queensland appears to be at the center of it. That’s why you find the likes of Southern Oil, Leaf Resources, Amyris, North Queensland Bioenergy, and the supported of advanced military biofuels highly active around the state.

Muscat (Commonwealth head and Maltese Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat) focused delegates on collaboration and clearly understand consumer needs. “If we intend to remain relevant ahead of the game. it’s not about outsmarting the others, but about listening better and collaborating more.”

It was no surprise that with a world trade system unhorsed not only by Brexit but also a searing round of protectionist moves by the US, China, and in the EU — it feels as if it might be a time of significant renewal of purpose for the 53-nation Commonwealth bloc. 

Roughly 90 percent of the speakers referred to the need to further educate the public about their particular topic. “People need to understand” was perhaps the most popular single phrase, and many looked to government to do the educating. 

If there’s only one market for agriculture — the commodity food market — we will see a rollercoaster of boom and bust cycles that drive out small farmers, reduce the tax base, and cause capital flight. Additional markets provide resilience— and they are essential to maintaining the confidence that produces affordable finance through affordable credit.

And, we have amazing agricultural innovation. We have meat without the cow, milk without the cow, leather without the cow, jet fuels made from crop waste and landfill. We have yoga pants made from sugar, materials stronger than steel and as flexible as a spider web, and 3D printed vehicles using lactic acid for the resin.

There’s been a convergence in genetics, robotics, mobility, big data and an explosion in digital storage and bandwidth. And what is driving that innovation? The promise of new markets in fuels, chemicals, materials, health, and more. It is time for countries across the Commonwealth to share in that bounty by opening and diversifying markets.

Some people would like to beguile you into thinking that fuel markets are open, and that all a product need to do is compete on price and functionality.

Open markets, closed markets
In fact, through national policy (usually relating to permitting companies to control the means of distribution) we closed the petroleum transport market to domestic competition from agriculture, but opened the petroleum refining market to foreign completion. The result has been the concentration of refining — many countries have virtually no energy refining capacity at all — a pittance of biorefining, a pittance of petroleum refining.

And exchanging dependence on one set of scarce materials for another — petroleum for battery metals — that’s a solution only until the next cartel forms. READ MORE

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