Biden issues executive order on biotechnology, biomanufacturing

By Erin Voegele | September 13, 2022

President Joe Biden on Sept. 12 issued an executive order launching a biotechnology and biomanufacturing initiative that aims to create jobs, build stronger supply chains and lower prices for American families.

Using biotechnology, microbes can be programed to make specialty chemicals and compounds via a “biomanufacturing” process. These products include plastics, fuels, materials and medicines. The White House cites industry analysis suggesting 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.

The initiative launched by Biden on Sept. 12 aims to accelerate biotechnology innovation and grow America’s bioeconomy across multiple sectors, including the health, agriculture and energy industries. The White House said 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 across the nation. It will also improve food and energy security and drive agricultural innovation while mitigating the impacts of climate change.

Specific actions targeted by the initiative include growth in domestic biomanufacturing capacity, the expansion of market opportunities for biobased products, support for research and development, improved access to quality federal data, workforce training, streamlined regulations for biotechnology products, advanced biosafety and biosecurity, protection of the U.S. biotechnology ecosystem, and the development of a thriving, secure global bioeconomy with partners and allies.

In part, the initiative will build, revitalize and secure national infrastructure for biomanufacturing in the U.S. This includes investments in regional innovation and enhanced bio-education while strengthening the U.S. supply chain that produces domestic fuels, chemicals and materials. The initiative will also expand the USDA’s BioPreferred Program, including increased mandatory biobased purchasing by federal agencies.   

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization has spoken out in support of the initiative. “BIO welcomes the Biden Administration’s directives to strengthen our domestic biotechnology and biomanufacturing industry,” said Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of BIO. “This Executive Order the president signed today acknowledges the ‘power of biotechnology’ and its benefits to the U.S. economy, work force and quality of life, as well its potential to boost food and agriculture innovation and address the climate crisis. We commend the administration for launching this initiative, particularly the actions to streamline regulatory regulations for biotechnology products, expand market opportunities for biobased products, work for international alignment of regulatory standards, and invest in training and education pathways to ensure an adequate, diverse biotech workforce.

“From the onset of the Biden administration, BIO has called on the administration to proactively advance biotechnology to foster resiliency and sustainability throughout the agricultural value chain and build a stronger, more resilient, and environmentally sustainable economy,” she continued. “This executive order will help the U.S. and the world meet our environmental and public health goals.”