Bangchak Corporation Public Company Limited hosted its annual seminar "Synthetic Biology: World Changing Science" Forum at M Towers, Sukhumvit Road, as an update on the advances being made in biotechnology across the world, in line with the BCG Economy Model Principal that focuses on the use of natural resources wisely and sustainably, through the views of private and public advocates from Thailand and overseas, including an exhibition on information and products from the SynBio Innovation.
It is common knowledge that the world population increases every year and, according to the World Population Foundation, by the year 2030, the world’s population will reach 9,700 million (7,000 million at present). But natural resources are limited and cannot possibly catch up with the human requirements. This, coupled with climate change, rising average surface temperature, GHG emissions, all pose a threat to earth’s ecosystem and lead to the decline in farmlands and evokes a world resources crisis. Scientists from all leading research institute thus focused their research and development on technology and innovations to respond to this threat. Thus, “Synthetic Biology” or “SynBio” came into being and, not only does it add value to economics, it also helps to reduce the use of the world’s resources and creates products that not only solve the problem but also satisfies the consumers’ needs.
Mr. Chaiwat Kovavisarach, President and Chief Executive Officer of Bangchak Corporation Public Company Limited, said “The businesses of the Bangchak Group are related to natural resources, we focus on the utilization of innovation to add value to natural resources to foster sustainability by adhering to the 3 main principles of the BCG Model in line with the government’s economic development initiatives which are: B (Bio economy) optimizing natural resources usage, C (Circular Economy) maximizing the reuse and recycling of all resources, and G (Green economy) addressing environmental issues, their effects on the earth and creating sustainability.
Bangchak annually organizes seminars to raise awareness of the public on social or environmental issues and their role in problem-solving or development – whether they be problems about garbage, draught and water management, to global warming. Last year, a seminar on Bio Economy was organized to showcase technology and innovations that were used to convert agricultural produce into bio products of higher economic value, furthering the development and usage of bio resources as well as agricultural wastes facing us today.
This year, our focus is on Synthetic Biology (SynBio) which is a disruptive technology bringing a drastic change to industries whether in foodstuffs, agriculture, energy and medicine, etc. SynBio can be construed as being a tool to craft our future by bringing innovation to create living organisms by man and not by nature. It is the fusing of knowledge in biology, technology and engineering together, to solve the earth’s resources crisis and develop new alternatives that are useful and sustainable from nature, to curb natural resources usage, streamline production processes, lower waste effluent, lower effects to the environment and cost reduction.
In truth, SynBio is not so far-removed from us and is already happening all around us –the closest perhaps being the Biofuels that can replace petroleum or fossil fuel refining. It is a sustainable way of using our natural resources that is beneficial to the environment and will lower costs. Bangchak has been at the forefront in these areas for many years through BBGI Public Company Limited. Other SynBio products have been introduced to overseas markets such as synthetic beef made from plants by the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger – American start-ups, or spider web synthesized from protein and going through a production process with SynBio resulting in a filament that is the strongest ever made, or cancer-fighting drugs that directly attack cancer cells and do not harm healthy cells.
The Forum was packed with experts in Synthetic Biology from Thailand and overseas with Dr. Kitipong Promwong, Secretary General, National Science Technology and Innovation Policy Office deliver a keynote address on “Syn Bio: Creating Values for Thai Economy”, followed by two special addresses from global experts: “Syn Bio Global Trend & Industrial Perspective” by Ms.Babette Pettersen, Business Development Director, Ginkgo Bioworks, USA., and "Brewing the Material Future" by Mr. Daniel Meyer, Head of Global Corporate Planning, Spiber Inc., Japan.
The final session was a panel discussion on “Syn Bio: Connecting Science with Business and Life” by Dr. Akarawit Kanchana-opas, Assistant Director General, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA), Dr. Suparerk Borwornpinyo, Excellent Center of Drug Discovery (ECDD) Department of Biotechnology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Dr. Rujawate Taharnklaew, Vice President of the R&D Center of Betagro Group and Vanessa Race (Noodi), one of Thailand’s brain and early childhood development experts, and an avid interest in plant-based foods.
Additionally, there was an exhibition on information and products from the SynBio Innovation such as cancer-fighting drugs from ECDD, Mahidol University, pulp bleaching agent from NSTDA, as well as plant- based burgers from Sizzler which attracted much attention from the participants.