Biden executive order launches National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

September 12, 2022 -- President Joe Biden signed an executive order today that is intended to allow the U.S. to harness the potential of biotechnology and biomanufacturing, according to an announcement by the White House.

"We need to develop genetic engineering technologies and techniques to be able to write circuitry for cells and predictably program biology in the same way in which we write software and program computers; unlock the power of biological data, including through computing tools and artificial intelligence; and advance the science of scale‑up production while reducing the obstacles for commercialization so that innovative technologies and products can reach markets faster," Biden's executive order states.

The order launches the National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative, which aims to reduce the country's reliance on non-U.S. materials and bioproduction while directing federal agencies to identify priority R&D needs to translate bioscience and biotech discoveries into medical breakthroughs and to strengthen domestic supply chains.

"Our past off-shoring of critical industries, including biotechnology, threatens our ability to access materials like important chemicals and active pharmaceutical ingredients," the White House said in a fact sheet. "The Initiative will drive advances in biomanufacturing that substitute fragile supply chains from abroad with strong chains at home, anchored by well-paying jobs in communities all across America."

The White House's announcement of the initiative noted that a "global industry is on the cusp of an industrial revolution powered by biotechnology" and that "bioengineering could account for more than a third of global output of manufacturing industries before the end of the decade -- almost $30 trillion in terms of value."

While the Biden administration did not provide any specifics on how much money would be allocated for the effort, details are expected on Wednesday, when the White House will host a summit on the initiative. It is expected that "cabinet agencies will announce a wide range of new investments and resources," the announcement stated.

"This Initiative will build, revitalize, and secure national infrastructure for biomanufacturing across America, including through investments in regional innovation and enhanced bio-education, while strengthening the U.S. supply chain that produces domestic fuels, chemicals, and materials," the White House said.

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