Can Biotech Be Harnessed?

Richard Haass and Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Institute, discuss the future of biotechnology and its potential impact on food production, climate change, energy production, and medicine.

Play Button Pause Button
0:00 0:00
  • Richard Haass
    President Emeritus, Council on Foreign Relations
Episode Guests
  • Michelle McMurry-Heath
    President and CEO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization

Show Notes

About this episode 


Biotechnology promises breakthroughs on various global challenges, but some observers think the risks of bioterrorism and other misuse outweigh the benefits. In this episode of Nine Questions for the World, Richard Haass and Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, discuss the future of biotech and its potential roles in food security, the fight against climate change, energy production, and medicine. 


This podcast series was originally presented as “The 21st Century World: Big Challenges and Big Ideas,” an event series in celebration of CFR’s centennial. This episode is based on a live event that took place on September 29, 2021.


See the corresponding video here.


Dig Deeper


From Michelle McMurry-Heath


In the Fight Against Climate Change, Don’t Overlook Biotech,” International Business Times


From CFR 


Claire Felter, “A Guide to Global COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts


Read More


Peter Sullivan, “Biotech group head juggles COVID-19 and drug pricing push,” The Hill


Stephanie Nolen, “Here’s Why Developing Countries Can Make mRNA Covid Vaccines,” New York Times 


Spencer Bokat-Lindell, “Can Lab-Grown Burgers Help Stop Climate Change?,” New York Times 


Ellen Nakashima, “U.S. officials caution companies about risks of working with Chinese entities in AI and biotech,” Washington Post


Watch and Listen

Exploring the Business of Longevity,” New York Times

Technology and Innovation

Richard Haass and Stanford University Professor Fei-Fei Li discuss how to contend with technologies that can do both good and harm.

Political History and Theory

Richard Haass and Margaret MacMillan, one of the world’s foremost historians, discuss how best to apply history to better understand current global challenges, including the erosion of democracy, the rise of China, and Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Aging, Youth Bulges, and Population

Birth rates are booming in some countries and plummeting in others. Leading demographer Nicholas Eberstadt and Richard Haass analyze the most important trends and their consequences.

Top Stories on CFR

Palestinian Territories

The leading UN aid agency for Palestinian refugees is engulfed in allegations that twelve of its employees were involved in the Hamas attacks on southern Israel. The agency faces severe funding cutbacks, with huge consequences for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. 

United States

New U.S. Census Bureau data shows the United States importing more goods from Mexico than from China. Will the shift change the global trading landscape?