News from U.S. Rep. James C. Greenwood 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 15, 2004
CONTACT: Stephanie Fischer (202) 225-4276
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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- I have loved representing our district in Congress and in the State House and Senate over the past twenty-four years. It has been an honor, a privilege and an extraordinary experience. As a Congressman I have served through the Gingrich revolution, the Clinton impeachment, the balancing (and, alas unbalancing) of the budget, September 11th, 2001 and the first term of President Bush.

During my time in public life, I have visited hundreds of our local neighborhoods, schools, community organizations, businesses, health facilities and service clubs. I have met with leaders and common people around the world. I’ve traveled with two presidents on Air Force One and marched with the Cub Scouts in Levittown.

My remarkable staff has enabled me to solve thousands of individual problems and to pass important legislation to improve health care. I have worked hard to protect the environment, including our oceans, have the lower Delaware River declared Wild and Scenic and save hundreds of acres of open space and farmland in Bucks County. More recently, I have been fortunate to serve as the chairman of an important subcommittee which has enabled me to lead major investigations into corporate malfeasance at Enron and Worldcom, ensure the protection of our ports and nuclear power facilities from terrorists and uncover waste, fraud and abuse at federal agencies.

My campaign team and I fought vigorously to win this seat in 1992 and to be-reelected five more times. Having worked so hard to maintain a position that offers such an opportunity to positively influence peoples’ lives, it is far more difficult to walk away from Congress than most may imagine. Particularly because my decision came in the midst of an election year, I welcome the opportunity to describe in my own words just what it is that has drawn me to a new calling at a time when I was not looking for a new job.

As I considered the monumental decision to retire, I reflected upon the myriad issues a Member of Congress faces on a daily basis: national security, taxes, the environment, Medicare, transportation funding, and the district-specific casework. It is inevitable that we are pulled a mile wide but sometimes only an inch deep. This choice will allow me to dive a mile deep into a new emerging and critically important field.

I have accepted the position of President of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), an international trade association, commencing at the end of my term on January 4th. Biotechnology is a collection of technologies that capitalize on the attributes of cells, such as their manufacturing capabilities, and put biological molecules, such as DNA and proteins, to work for us.

Just last year, scientists completed the first map of the human genome. The project, originally funded by Congress in 1990, identified the 30,000 genes in human DNA and determined the sequence of three billion chemical base pairs that make up our DNA. The ultimate goal is to use this information to develop new ways to treat, cure, or even prevent the thousands of diseases that afflict humankind. Some have said that we have now entered the “biotechnology century.”

Biotechnology products, in contrast to pharmaceuticals that are chemically synthesized, are derived from living sources (such as the cells of humans, animals, and microorganisms). Many of these products are complex molecules and are produced using innovative manufacturing technologies. Without question, biotechnology products represent the cutting-edge of biomedical research.

This amazing science offers new hope for patients suffering from heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, HIV, spinal and brain injury and mental health disorders. Additionally, biotechnology is already helping to prevent hunger through crops that resist pests and draught, cleaning the environment with engineered enzymes, and contributing to the war against terror by developing tools against biological weapons.

Under the best of circumstances, researchers in this breakthrough science may realize their vision of saving humanity from immeasurable suffering and premature death. On the other hand, they may be thwarted by the debates over stem cell research, therapeutic cloning and other unresolved controversies and ethical issues attendant to this science. Or they may be stalled due to insufficient private and public investment. The opportunity to help advance and guide this revolutionary science is the only one I could imagine that would be attractive enough to call me from elective office after twenty-four years of public service.

Most of the members of BIO have not yet developed products that have been approved by the FDA. They are mostly small, struggling emerging companies populated with brilliant young investigators with dreams of finding new cures and treatments. Some of the companies do have products on the market that treat diseases like hemophilia, meningitis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and many, many more.

My job will be to help move this science forward – to help the small companies gain access to investment funds and get their products through the approval process – to patients’ bedsides and to help the companies that do have products on the market to succeed. If the larger companies are not profitable, investors will move their dollars to other economic sectors. My challenge will also be to help educate the public and lead the debate on the issues of controversy.

As excited as I am about these new challenges, I will miss the role of serving as our Representative in Congress. I still believe, after all these years in politics, that government service is among the most noble of callings. I will soon leave this arena and enter one quite different. Others will follow and continue to serve our community. I encourage you to keep them honest and responsive with your scrutiny. Cynicism will drive away the good public servants as well as the bad. High expectations and trust will enable the best to rise to the occasion.

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