Executive order signed to advance biotechnology
By: Sydney Sheffield
President Joe Biden recently signed an Executive Order Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy.
The order directs United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA to submit a report assessing how to use biotechnology and biomanufacturing for cultured meat products. The order will also examine how biotechnology and biomanufacturing can improve sustainability and land conservation, increase food quality and nutrition, along with increasing and protecting agricultural yields.
“Biotechnology harnesses the power of biology to create new services and products, which provide opportunities to grow the United States economy and workforce and improve the quality of our lives and the environment,” the order says. “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.”
The Executive Order is the latest step towards cultured meats, taken by the Biden administration. In October 2021, USDA awarded Tufts University $10 million to help develop cultured meats. The grant money will fund the evaluation of consumer acceptance of cultivated meat, measure the environmental impact of the manufacturing process, assess the economic viability compared to farm production, and prepare the next generation of the industry’s workforce.
According to the Executive Order, the U.S. will develop genetic engineering technologies, write circuitry for cells, and predictably program biology in the same way used to write software and program computers. In addition, the advancement of science allows production to scale up while reducing obstacles to commercialization, helping innovative technologies and products reach markets faster.
Those in the meat and agriculture industry are not celebrating the White House’s announcement. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) President Don Schiefelbein said in a statement, “These tools are necessary to build on our legacy as sustainable providers of beef to consumers in the U.S. and around the world. Unfortunately, we are extremely disappointed that this Executive Order also addresses fake meat production under the guise of food security. Supporting cell-cultured, fake meat products is the wrong approach and the administration should remain focused on supporting America’s farmers and ranchers.”
Read the Executive Order here.