Biden announces boost for US biotech and biomanufacturing

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/visualgeneration
Pic:getty/visualgeneration

Related tags: biotech, biomanufacturing, Us

US president Joe Biden sets out a ‘whole-of-government approach to advance biotechnology and biomanufacturing’ in a new initiative announced today.

The aim is to create a 'sustainable, safe and secure American bioeconomy'. Among the goals outlined are ethical and responsible uses of biotechnology and biomanufacturing; and measures to reduce biological risks associated with advances in biosecurity.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vital role of biotechnology and biomanufacturing in developing and producing life-saving diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines that protect Americans and the world,”​ says the president.

“Although the power of these technologies is most vivid at the moment in the context of human health, biotechnology and biomanufacturing can also be used to achieve our climate and energy goals, improve food security and sustainability, secure our supply chains, and grow the economy across all of America.”

Driving R&D

The executive order outlines policies to ‘bolster and coordinate Federal investment in key research and development (R&D) areas of biotechnology and biomanufacturing in order to further societal goals’.

It also wants to ‘foster a biological data ecosystem that advances biotechnology and biomanufacturing innovations, while adhering to principles of security, privacy and responsible conduct of research’.

Furthermore, it wants to improved and expand domestic biomanufacturing production capacity and processes, while also increasing piloting and prototyping efforts in biotechnology and biomanufacturing to accelerate the translation of basic research results into practice.

In the field of life sciences, the first step will be for The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), in consultation with the heads of appropriate agencies, to submit a report assessing how biotechnology and biomanufacturing can be used to achieve medical breakthroughs, reduce the overall burden of disease and improve health outcomes.

Moving with the times

The US president puts the emphasis first on boosting R&D. 

"For biotechnology and biomanufacturing to help us achieve our societal goals, the United States needs to invest in foundational scientific capabilities," ​he said.

"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 also puts the spotlight on the need to address biosecurity: an issue that has become more and more important as biotech advances are made​.

"Simultaneously, we must take concrete steps to reduce biological risks associated with advances in biotechnology,"​ he continued.  

"We need to invest in and promote biosafety and biosecurity to ensure that biotechnology is developed and deployed in ways that align with United States principles and values and international best practices, and not in ways that lead to accidental or deliberate harm to people, animals, or the environment. 

"In addition, we must safeguard the United States bioeconomy, as foreign adversaries and strategic competitors alike use legal and illegal means to acquire United States technologies and data, including biological data, and proprietary or precompetitive information, which threatens United States economic competitiveness and national security."

The full executive order can be found here.

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