U.S. increases investment in biotechnology

U.S. increases investment in biotechnology

President Joe Biden signs an executive order Monday to develop the Biotechnology Initiative to ensure the development and production of cutting-edge biotechnology in the United States needed to eradicate cancer and pursue other innovations.

“It will save lives, create jobs across the country, strengthen supply chains and lower prices for American families even in times of global turbulence,” the White House said in a statement released Monday.

The executive order allocates additional government funds to the biotechnology industry to reduce reliance on China for clean energy generation materials, COVID-19 vaccinations and new tissue manufacturing.

“The United States has relied on foreign materials for biomanufacturing for too long, and locating critical industries, including biotechnology, overseas poses a threat to our ability to access key materials, including active pharmaceutical ingredients for life-saving medicines,” the White House statement stressed.

Administration officials said Monday that the executive order allows the federal government to direct funding to produce new foods, fertilizers and seeds, as well as to streamline work in the mining industry.

The federal government is already the source of funding for biotechnology research and development (R&D) through the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Agriculture and other agencies. Total R&D funding in the U.S. has declined as a percentage of gross domestic product since peaking in the 1950s, and Biden intends to reverse this trend.

Potential applications range from biodiesel produced by Renewable Energy Group to COVID vaccines produced by Pfizer-BioNTech or genetically modified seeds produced by Corteva Inc.

Biden will present the executive order Monday in Boston, where he will speak about Cancer Moonshot, an effort to spur research, develop new treatments and reduce deaths from cancer.