By Kim Coghill
WASHINGTON - The Biotechnology Industry Organization Wednesday honored U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) as 1999-2000 Legislator of the Year for his leadership and promotion of biotechnology research. U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) was given the same award for leadership and support of the industry.
In presenting Lugar's award, Val Giddings, BIO's vice president for food and agriculture, said, "Sen. Lugar's informed and passionate advocacy of biotechnology, in both his role as a farmer and as chairman of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, has helped foster public awareness and understanding of the benefits of biotechnology."
Lugar authored the Biomass Research and Development Act of 2000, recently signed into law, encouraging research on the use of enzymes in the conversion of biomass to energy. Lugar in 1998 championed a $120 million initiative to support research for agricultural biotechnology, genomics and food safety.
Thomas has been an outstanding leader in the House on health care issues and his support for biotechnology has been a fundamental part of his work as chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, said Carl Feldbaum, BIO president.
Thomas also was instrumental in the passage of a Medicare reform bill that increases access for seniors to prescription drugs for diseases disproportionately suffered by those individuals who are on Medicare, while encouraging research and development of innovative biotech medicines.