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Biden order to bolster US biotech industry

12 September 2022   |   9:25 am
President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Monday seeking to bolster the trailblazing US biotech sector's efforts to take on growing commercial rivals in China, officials said.

ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA – SEPTEMBER 11: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a ceremony commemorating the 21st anniversary of the crash of American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon during the September 11th terrorist attacks at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial on September 11, 2022 in Arlington, Virginia. The nation is marking the twenty-first anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when the terrorist group al-Qaeda flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center, Shanksville, PA, and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Anna Moneymaker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Monday seeking to bolster the trailblazing US biotech sector’s efforts to take on growing commercial rivals in China, officials said.

The order will bring federal support for “areas that will define US biotechnology leadership and our economic competitiveness in the coming decades,” a senior Biden administration official told reporters.

The official said that while US biotech research leads the world, the industrial applications are increasingly in the hands of other countries.

“Unless we translate biotechnology innovation into economic and societal benefits for all Americans, other countries, including and especially China, are aggressively investing in this sector,” posing a “risk,” the official said.

Biden will discuss the executive order during a Monday speech in Boston on administration plans to ramp up the US scientific and healthcare-based fight against cancer.

The official said the global economy is set to be revolutionized by biotechnology.

He cited studies suggesting that “before the end of the decade, engineering biology holds the potential to be used in the manufacturing industry that accounts for more than one-third of global output. That’s equivalent to almost $30 trillion in terms of value.”

The White House will host a bio-economy gathering on Wednesday and is expected to announce new investments and programs to advance research and strengthening of manufacturing and supply chains, officials told reporters.

The senior official said biotech made its mark during the Covid-19 pandemic with the rapid development of tests, vaccines and therapeutics.

“But the power of biotechnology goes far beyond healthcare,” the official said. “It will enable us to reinvent American supply chains, transitioning away from chemicals that rely on oil, towards cleaner, safer, more reliable alternatives that we make right here at home.”

Growing areas for biotech innovation include new plastics and rubbers, jet fuel, and natural fertilizers “extracted from pig manure… with zero wastewater discharge or air emissions.”

“I think the United States really has the best biotechnology innovators in the world. We really do lead in this area. But we’ve just fallen behind” in manufacturing, the official said.

Biden’s effort to support the sector dovetails with his other message ahead of midterm congressional elections that he wants to bring offshore industry back to the United States, while focusing especially on high-tech businesses.

On Wednesday, Biden is due to tout his administration’s support for the electric vehicle industry during a trip to Detroit.