- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 11, 2022

President Biden is expected to sign an executive order on Monday aimed at boosting domestic biotechnology and reducing U.S. reliance on foreign biomanufacturing. 

Officials say the executive order, which is part of a broader biotechnology initiative under the administration, will help secure U.S. leadership in the development and production of key technologies used in products ranging from jet fuels to pharmaceuticals. 

“The United States really has the best biotechnology innovators in the world,” a senior administration official said. “But we risk falling behind as we did in the semiconductor sector and the advanced telecommunication sector unless we translate biotechnology innovation into economic benefits for all Americans.”

“Other countries, including and especially China are aggressively investing in the sector, which poses risks to U.S. leadership unless we take the kinds of actions that we are with this executive order,” the official said. 

Mr. Biden’s executive order and the broader biotechnology initiative that the White House will unveil later in the week focus on strengthening supply chains and expanding domestic manufacturing capacity for biotechnology.  

The executive order will also emphasize job creation in the field and expanded training and education opportunities to drive innovation in healthcare and agriculture, among other fields, through the development of advanced biotechnology. 

“We know that the global industry is on the cusp of a revolution powered by biotechnology,” a senior administration official said. “Analyses, in fact, suggest that before the end of the decade, engineering biology holds the potential to be used in the manufacturing industry that accounts for more than 1/3 of global output.”

Mr. Biden is expected to offer remarks on the executive order and launch his broader biotechnology initiative during his visit to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston on the 60th anniversary of Kennedy’s “moonshot” speech.

During the event, Mr. Biden will also discuss his administration’s progress on achieving his vision for ending cancer “as we know it” since unveiling the “Cancer Moonshot” initiative in February. He will also announce the inaugural director for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health which he created to improve the U.S. government’s ability to speed up health and biomedical research.

The biotechnology initiative is being announced on the heels of Mr. Biden’s signing of a $280 billion technology spending measure last month which included a $52 billion payout to domestic semiconductor manufacturers. 

Officials have not yet placed a figure on the biotechnology initiative’s cost, though the White House said it would provide further details later in the week. 

On Friday, Mr. Biden lauded the payoff from the investments in domestic chip manufacturing during a groundbreaking ceremony at semiconductor giant Intel’s new fabrication facility in Ohio. 

The groundbreaking ceremony marked the realization of Mr. Biden’s vision of “a field of dreams in the middle of Ohio” and a U.S economy centered on domestically produced technology, which he imagined in his State of the Union address last March.

“It’s happening,” Mr. Biden said. “It’s a reality today and it’s just beginning. Because I signed into law the Chips and Science Act we are accelerating the progress. This new law makes historic investments for companies to build advanced manufacturing facilities here in America.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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