Industrial Biotech - CRHS Speech and Debate Team


Dec 1, 2012 (4 years and 6 months ago)


Industrial Biotechnology


As technology has expanded, the ability for humans to use that technology to produce positive
outcomes as well as fixing current problems has also expanded. Industrial biotechnology as a specific
subset of technologi
es seeks to use enzymes and micro
organsisms to synthetically create products in a
variety of fields including: chemical distribution, pharmaceuticals, textiles,
and energy production
. If
used appropriately and effectively, industrial biotechnology has the

possibility of mitigating global issues
including climate change, starvation, and disease spread. While biotechnology itself is a massive field
that encompasses a variety of different technologies, industrial biotechnology (or White biotechnology”)

“maximizing and optimizing” biochemical pathways that can be used in manufacturing.”
(Simpson) This differentiates it from other forms of biotechnology like agricultural biotechnology which
is used to genetically modify crops or medical biotechnology w
hich incorporates this technology in the
medical industry.
However, there is extensive overlap between the fields so these distinctions are
somewhat blurred.
The potential for industrial biotechnology is immense, but some of the concerns and
criticisms rel
ated to the field implicate its development.
For one, individuals fear that the companies
capable of using biotechnology will achieve a monopoly in the field so expansion of the industry risks
crushing smaller businesses. In addition, the advanced biotechn
ology used to generate energy is only
the hands of wealthier countries so that a “tech gap” exists between the developed and developing
world. Finally, biotechnology often requires altering the genetic makeup of organic life which could have
serious ethica
l and practical implications. While the field holds much potential for the future, very little
regulation and stimulation of the industry has occurred among policy makers which means the topic is
open for discussion.

Government Arguments

As the governmen
t, you will want to argue that there is relatively few opportunities for businesses to
expand in the field of biotechnology. You want to argue that the government should either provide
funding for the start
up costs of industrial biotechnology or provide t
ax credits sufficient to encourage
the industry to thrive.
You might also suggest that the federal government expand its definition of
renewable energies to include energy produced by biotechnology so that the industry would have fewer
barriers for develop
ment and expansion. You would then want to make arguments that federal support
for similar alternative energies like wind and solar energy has been incredibly effective in spurring both
innovation and investment. When constructing advantages, your first an
d primary argument should be
that biotechnology can be used to mitigate global climate change. The scientific consensus is that the
Earth’s climate is rapidly changing and that as long as humans continue to burn fossil fuels, emissions
will contribute to t
his change. You want to argue that biotechnology has the capacity to encourage a
switchover to more sustainable energy that does not pollute harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
Biotechnology has the capacity to use agricultural and plant waste to produc
e energy while also creating
synthetic alternatives to fossil fuels. You want to argue that US development of this energy source is
important for establishing the US as a leader on climate change so that the federal government can
encourage other countries

to take an active stance against global warming. You can also argue that
increased investment in biotechnology has the capacity to spill over into other forms of renewable
energy and increases the likelihood that these environmentally friendly sources wil
l become cost
competitive with conventional forms of fuel. Taking action against climate change is important so that
humanity might avoid a future with extensive coastal flooding, ocean acidification, and other deleterious
effects associate with a changing

biosphere. Your second advantage
might argue that using
biotechnology helps the economy and is necessary for creating efficient energy production. The world is
rapidly running out of fossil fuels, with demand skyrocketing and supply quickly diminishing. S
over to biotechnology alleviates this problem by providing a sustainable form of energy that can be used
by future generations. It also spurs the development of a new industry which is necessary for job
creation and restoring sagging economic grow
You might also craft an argument about the
importance of biotechnology to retaining overall US competitiveness among advanced technological
forms. Currently, the US is lacking research and development in scientific industries which is hurting its
ty to compete economically on the global scale. Investment in biotechnology allows the US to retain
access to cutting edge technologies while also producing products that are the lead in scientific

Opposition Arguments

There are a multitud
e of potential arguments made against biotechnology, the most basic of which
stems from the feasibility of expanding this specific industry. Biotechnology holds enormous potential,
but is expensive compared to other forms of energy production and requires
intensive investment in
products that have steep start
up costs. This decreases the overall viability of making this field
applicable beyond isolated locations and harms the ability for the government to solve the problems it
outlines. Furthermore, biotech
nology has empirically had problems associated with monopolization of
technology which has stifled development and destroyed small businesses. An opposition team could
argue that the funds provided by the government plan could be diverted to large multinat
corporations which undermine the economic benefit of the plan while also harming smaller businesses.
In addition, government teams could argue that the spending required for industrial biotechnology,
specifically the production of ethanol
based biofu
els, is cost extensive and would require extraneous
amounts of investment. Subsidies for biofuels have produced limited amounts of energy and have cost
the government billions in subsidies to specific industries. Increased government spending, particularly

in a time of economic recession, could create a variety of problems.
You could also argue that
investment in biotechnology poses a significant risk to native ecosystems by altering the original genetic
makeup of native species. An example of this is cross
breeding that has occurred between genetically
modified crops and native species in agricultural areas of the US. The contamination of native
environments with biotech
based plants has caused mutations that are especially vulnerable. Increasing

in industrial biotechnology risks altering ecosystems in an irreversible fashion by making
plants susceptible to the same problems of blight and disease weakness on a large scale. This problem is
commonly known as monoculture. Finally, biotechnology also
has several international costs, including
creating relations
based problems with other countries. Developing nations have been adversely
affected by the development of biotechnology because they have become dependent on large
enterprises for survival. In
addition, other developed nations (specifically in Europe) have imposed bans
on genetically modified organisms and have reacted negatively to US development of biotechnology.
This has created trade tensions between the powers over whether or not biotechnol
ogy is actually a
good thing.

Member of Government Strategy

The main argument MGs should focus on when delivering their speech is that biotechnology has
become increasingly more effective in its capacity to remedy the harms of previous failed attempts.
hile there have been some negative effects related to biotechnology, new advances in
the field have
enabled scientists to correct for previous errors. The second major thing you want to do as an MG is to
recharacterize your case by saying that the problems

outlined by the opposition are less applicable to
industrial biotechnology.

biotechnology relies on modification
that minimally affects
ecosystems and uses waste and associated by
products to produce energy. This decreases the likelihood
that i
t is connected with adverse effects like the alteration of natural environments. In response to cost
arguments, you might argue that subsidies have been effective in getting similar types of alternative
energies off the ground or that the subsidies could b
e complemented with tax credits to boost efficacy.
You might also argue that unlike agricultural biotechnological corporations, industrial biotechnology is in
its fledgling stages of development and is apt to be supported by smaller start
up companies. In
environment, you would argue that subsidization is necessary to get the industry into stages where it
can produce high yields of energy. Finally, in answering any level of negative international relations
arguments, you can explain that industrial bio
tech is not associated with genetically modified organisms
and is instead perceived as a form of renewable energy which bolsters US imagery. You could argue that
a variety of other countries, including developing and developed nations, have adopted industr
biotechnology without significant costs.

Member of Opposition

In this speech, you want to focus the majority of your arguments on either the environmental or the
economic problems associated with industrial biotechnology. A lot of your strategy can b
e premised on
the idea that because industrial biotechnology is such a new field, it has the potential to create disaster
both socially and environmentally. Similar instances of genetic modification have empirically created
environmental changes which are
now irreversible. Focusing on the empirics of biotechnology will
enable you to leverage arguments based upon the facts of genetic modification, rather than relying on
faulty speculations of what the benefits might someday look like.
As much as possible, yo
u want to stick
the gov with the problems associated with genetic modification; no level of technological development
has the capacity to reverse the inherent problems associated with biotechnology. Significant alterations
of the environment, while promisi
ng in potential, carry far too much baggage to be applied in any useful
sense and only risk destroying native, fragile ecosystems.
You can also argue that the US’ track record on
creating biofuels has not only contributed to extensive amounts of debt spend
ing, but that it has also
produced little to no change in global climate change. Even if biotechnology can be used to remedy
larger harms like global warming, it is done at such a miniscule level that it is unlikely to actually change
the problem in any im
mediate capacity.
Finally, you should argue that even if a mega
corporation does
not exist within the industrial biotechnology sector yet, the ability for companies to buy up significant
patents kills economic growth. The company with the most buying power

and largest coffers will
eventually win out meaning that industrial biotechnology is likely to follow in the footsteps of similar
genetic modification markets.

Prime Minister’s Constructive

Observation 1: Inherency


Interest in industrial biotechno
logy is limited in the status quo:

Most investment in biotechnology exists on a small scale and overall investment in the field is
isolated to regional areas. In 2010, biotechnology grew far less than other industries suggesting
that a slow
down in product
ion is coming. (Martino)


Corn subsidies are hurting biotechnology growth:

Individuals perceived biotech to be associated with excessive spending and have ended the
subsidization of

based biofuels. This has hurt the ability for small
scale biotech comp
to access funds necessary for development. (MSNBC)


Lignocellulose ethanol is different:

Lignocellulose ethanol uses plant lignin which is indigestible and derived from plant waste. This
makes it different from other types of ethanol because it uses p
lant matter that would be
discarded rather than something used for food production. (
“Breaking the Biological Barriers to
Cellulosic Ethanol,” A report by the USDoE June 2006

Plan: The USFG should substantially increase support for industrial biotehchnol
ogy providing federal
tax credits equal to the of startup costs of private companies seeking to develop and produce
Lignocellulosic Ethanol in the United States.

Observation 2: Foreign Oil



The US is heavily dependent on foreign oil:

the US

possesses only 3 percent of the worl
d's oil, it consumes 25 percent of overall oil
production. The US relies on oil for the functioning of all parts of industry and infrastructure
suggesting that it is embedded within the existence of the country mo
re generally. (Parmley)


Foreign oil comes from dangerous sources:

The United States imported 4 million barrels of oil a day

from “dangerous or unstable”
countries in 2008 at a cost of about $150 billion.
” Many of these countries are either run by
dictatorial regimes or countries with little internal governmental functioning. This runs
the risk of restarting oil crises of the 1970s or even conflicts arising over access to oil. (Lefton
and Weiss)



Ethanol can provide large amounts of energy

Similar ethanol
based fuels supply upwards of 25% of the total energy of developing nations like
Brazil, while biofuels as a whole provide 4% of total US energy consumption. Increased
investment in the field could provide a model for widespread distribut
ion of renewable energies
which enable us to wean ourselves off of foreign oil. (Swallow)


Investment in ethanol makes it more cost competitive with fossil fuels:

As biofuels have become widely adopted internationally, petroleum companies like Shell have
mped up their investment in alternative energies. The plan provides momentum necessary for
making biofuels cost competitive with conventional forms of energy. (D’Amico)


Lignocellulosic ethanol has no food or environmental tradeoffs:

Conventional forms of e
thanol are often plagued with emitting large amounts of carbon that
make them inefficient fuels. Lignocellulose ethanol uses the waste of food so that it not only has
no food tradeoff, but is also healthier for the environment. (

Leader of Oppositi
on’s Constructive

Environment DA

: The world is using less Genetically Modified Organism

Roundup ready crops and similar GM technology is becoming increasingly more costly for
farmers. Over 50 organized groups are attempting to ban GMOs worldw
ide before the UN
suggesting decreased interest and usage of GM crops. (Ettinger)


Plan increases interest and focus in GM technology:

Empirically, government backing of GM projects has increased the usage and scope of
production of genetic modificat
ion. The plan encourages greater development in GM products
because it enables other companies to green
light GM projects that lack sufficient start
up funds

Impact: GM crops are harmful to the environment:

Genetic modification has the capacity t
o seriously alter existing environments, including
destroying native biodiversity and increasing chemical use in agriculture. In addition, genes are
able to “cross
pollinate” with native species creating unstable mutations that are particularly
to diseases and adverse climate changes. (World Health Organization)

EU Relations DA

Uniqueness: EU
US trade relationships are stable:

Both the EU and US are major trading partners and are considered economically intertwined,
particularly in the mutual co
operation developed during current economic difficulties. Part of
why trade remains stable is because the two powers have low tariffs and limited barriers
between trade which allows for free flow between the two powers. (Ahearn)

Link: Increased GM product
ion hurts relations:

Moratoriums over GM crops have empirically caused friction between the EU and the US, in
some cases escalating to World Trade Organization lawsuits. A new round of genetically
modified production could create threats of trade retaliati
on and hurt economic relationships
between the two superpowers. (Market to Market)

Impact: Trade disruptions cause economic depression

US economic sanctions and tariffs would have “a depressing impact” on trade between the two
powers. Given the current fr
agile state of the economy, major distortions in trade could push
either country into a double
dip recession causing economic meltdown. A global depression
would obviously lower the quality of life and increase social problems like hunger. (Yang)

Case Res


Plan cannot solve: Biotech isn’t distributed

Biotech firms are only firmly rooted in a few select locations, the majority of which are in urban
areas and with access to sufficient capital. The overall lack of a coherent infrastructure means
that mos
t biotech projects remain inaccessible and limited in their capacity to grow.


Plan doesn’

solve: Biotech is expensive

According to various financial reports, biotech products are not expected to yield any significant
profit for years. In addi
tion, the overall losses of the biotech sector “plunged from $9.4 billion to
$3.2 billion” in the mid
2000s suggesting the industry is incapable of creating solutions. (Tansey)


Problem is being solves now: Biotech investment already exists

Various startup
s nationwide, specifically in New York City and in areas of California, have
experienced independent growth and investment from the private sector. This suggests that the
government doesn’t need to invest in biotech, other independent actors will provide f
necessary for increased research and development. (Weintraub)

Member of Government’s Constructive


Biotech is efficient:

Current estimate suggest that biotechnology has the capacity to reduce between “1.5 billion and
2.5 billion tons of CO2” by the p
eriod 2030. Various forms of biotechnology not only improve
the ability for crops to grow, but also enhance the environment and provide clean forms of
energy globally. (Europabio)


Biotech can help the developing world:

Biotechnology can be used to increase

crop growing in many locations throughout the 3

New forms of biotechnology can be targeted to specifically address individual concerns of
various nations, while also decreasing the cost of food and increasing efficiency of crops.


GM crop
s help the environment:

Genetically modified crops have decreased the overall amount of pesticides used during crop
tilling. This has reduced the risk of hazardous runoff which has empirically created “dead zones”
where ecosystems have collapsed. In additi
on, the rate at which crops can be grown means that
fewer resources are used in the crop rotation period. (Phipps)


Biotech yields significant economic benefits:

Revenue growth for a variety of biotech
based firms is expected to grow by upwards of 13%
certain industries experiencing greater degrees of success. Improved intellectual property
rights protections have enabled the industry to thrive because gene patents are more likely to
be utilized by those who control the technology. (IBISWorld)

Member o
f Opposition’s Constructive:


Biotech creates mutations:

Research in biotechnology is so limited that it has produced a variety of unexpected
consequences. Scientists utilizing biotechnology to treat cancer have had to handle mutations in
genetically modifi
ed stem cells which have been counterproductive for research. Mutations also
suggest that the technology can exceed the limits of human control. (Fikes)


Biotech is unsafe:

Experiments in the alteration of genes have produced viruses which have completely k
populations of sample mice. The use of biotechnology risks unleashing
genetic combinations
which could threaten entire ecosystems with collapse. (Steele)


Other nations oppose GMOs:

Member nations of the EU oppose US development of genetically modifie
d organisms, despite
US threats of “potential trade disruptions and retaliatory measures.” This suggests that
increased development in biotechnology, specifically applied to food production, could cause
anger from other actors in the developed world. (Bosq


Biotechnology lacks regulation:

The regulations on biotechnology are somewhat lax which hampers the ability to strictly enforce
laws designed to prevent harmful outcomes. The duties of managing biotechnology are divided
between three US agencies (the E
PA, the FDA, and the USDA) yet there are no universal
guidelines that each organization uses to manage biotechnology. (Thieman)

Works Cited

Ahearn, Raymond. "U.S.
EU Trade and Economic Relations: Key Policy Issues for the 112th Congress."
International T
rade, March 1, 2011.

Bosque, Melissa Del. "Clone on the
" The Texas Observer, September 14, 2011.

D'Amico, Esther. "Next
generation biofuels facemany challenges; The sector has come a long way, and
construction of commercial
scale cellulosic ethano
l units is beginning.Yet there are a number of
challenges, including financing." ICIS Chemical Business, June 27, 2011.

Ettinger, Jill. "Are Monsanto's Days Numbered? 50+ Organizations Urging GMO Ban ." The Huffington
Post, September 29, 2011.


"Biotechnology: Paving the road to a resource
efficient Europe." The European Association
for Bioindustries, September 22, 2011.

Fikes, Bradley. "Biotech: More evidence of possibly dangerous mutations in artificial stem cells ." North
County Times, March

2, 2011.

Forston, Danny. "My other car runs on grass." The Sunday Times, September 18, 2011.

IBISWorld. "VoIP Providers And Corn Farmers Can Expect To Have Bumper Years In 2008 And Beyond."
March 19, 2008.

Lefton and Weiss: http://www.americanprogress

Market to Market. "USDA Takes EU To WTO Over GMO." Iowa Public Television, May 16, 2003.

Martino, Maureen. "Biotech VC investing grows 3% in 2010." Fierce Biotech, January 11, 2011.

. "$5 billion

ethanol subsidy nearing its end? ." Reuters, June 16, 2011.

Parmley, Julia. "U.S. must end dependency on oil, expert says." UDaily, April 6, 2006.

Phipps, R.H., and J.R. Park. "Environmental benefits of genetically modified crops: Global and European
rspectives on their ability to reduce pesticide
" Journal of Animal andFeed Sciences. 11. (2002): 1

Smith, Jeffrey. Seeds of Deception: Exposing Industry and Government Lies About the Safety of the
Genetically Engineered Foods You're Eating. Fairf
ield, IA: Yes Books, 2003.

Steele, David. "Danger Lurks in a Biotech
" The Aquarian, 2004.

Swallow, Julian. "Fuel for thought." The Advertiser, September 28, 2011.

Tansey, Bernadette. "Biotech profit still distant / Expensive obstacles keep indust
ry in the red, report
says." San Francisco Gate , June 1, 2005.

Thieman, William, and Michael Palladino. Introduction to Biotechnology. Ventura, CA: Benjamin
Cummings, 2004.

Timmerman, Sam. "Biotech’s Missed Opportunity: Small
Town and Rural America." Xc
onomy, April 18,

Weintraub, Arlene. "New York City Investment Fund Supports Biotech, Cleantech, and Now “Fintech”
Startups." Xconomy, May 9, 2011.

Wollny, C.B.A. 2006. Facts and emotions in biotech: Towards efficient R&D capacity building targeting

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Yang, Jiawen. "How Do US Economic Sanctions Affect EU's Trade with Target Countries?." The World
Economy. 32. no. 8 (2009): 1223