Thursday afternoon, U.S. Sen. Kit Bond received a fond farewell as the champion of biotechnology from some of the people who know the most about the subject.
At a Thursday afternoon lunch at the Capitol Plaza Hotel for the members of the Missouri Biotechnology Association, the Missouri senator was the keynote speaker, heralding the work that scientists have accomplished while he has been in the Senate. Bond said the work he has done for the industry is not something that ends when he leaves office in January.
"Biotech is the idea that is here," Bond said. "We need strategic decisions and investment policy makers for products, financiers, researchers, educators and farmers to get a vibrant industry for years to come."
The work that has already been accomplished, Bond said, includes breakthroughs like mapping the corn genome. And while he did not claim credit for himself for the breakthrough that allowed researchers to make stronger crops for the future, Bond took time to make certain that the credit for such research was given where it was deserved and explained how he felt the ripple of that work in his own line of work.
"It came, not as people would suggest, from educational institutions or business," Bond said. "It came from a bunch of corn growers and soybean producers who came in and started talking turkey with me about how they needed to stay ahead of the technology.
"They convinced me that biotechnology was not only key to improving the rural economy, but it was revolutionizing the world in the way that the steam engine revolutionized industry and the computer revolutionized the sharing of information at the time."
However, Bond said the challenges he sees for biotechnology in the future presented by groups like Greenpeace are not going away any time soon. He described the challenges he has seen in other countries like England and India where researchers have been blocked by similar groups because of concerns that come from the potential dangers that come from genetically enhancing food.
Earlier in the day, Bond also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Missouri Hospital Association for "his work and commitment to support the state's hospitals and communities." Bond said during an interview before the lunch that he was honored by the award and said he anticipates that the torch he has carried for that industry will be carried by his successor, Sen.-elect Roy Blunt.
"I think there is still a lot of progress to be made, and Roy has shown that he will not only travel all over the state, from the farthest rural areas to inner cities," Bond said. "He'll be able to work with those people and find the solutions. I think he is firmly committed to that, and that is why he won by a historic margin."