President Joe Biden signed an executive order laying out a strategy to bolster domestic bio-manufacturing and reduce reliance on China for new medicines, chemicals and other products.
Biden signed the order Sept. 12 morning before giving a speech in Boston. The White House will also hold a summit Sept. 14 to discuss the initiative and announce new investments in domestic research, development and production capabilities, according to a statement.
While the U.S. has one of the world’s strongest biotechnology industries, some high-tech production has migrated abroad. U.S. national security and intelligence officials are particularly concerned about reliance on China’s advanced bio-manufacturing infrastructure. Bloomberg News reported details of the executive order on Sept. 10.
The National Biotechnology and Bio-manufacturing Initiative will aim to create new jobs, strengthen the supply chain and lower prices, according to the White House statement. Looking beyond health care, the U.S. will aim to advance bio-manufacturing in agriculture, energy and other industries.
“Global industry is on the cusp of an industrial revolution powered by biotechnology,” the White House said. The country has “relied too heavily on foreign materials and bio-production, and our past off-shoring of critical industries, including biotechnology, threatens our ability to access materials like important chemicals and active pharmaceutical ingredients.”
Sense of Urgency
COVID-19 created a sense of urgency within the administration around developing a clear, consistent industrial strategy, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified as the details aren’t public. Fast development and production of messenger RNA vaccines are an example of successful domestic investment, the people said.
The order contains the outlines of how the U.S. should develop a trained, diverse workforce capable of using naturally occurring processes to create bio-based products and materials. The Biden administration plans to support bio-manufacturing infrastructure, though it’s not yet clear how much funding there is to back the executive order.
On Aug. 25, Biden signed an executive order to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing that’s also part of the administration’s drive to shift the balance of U.S. competition with China.
In May, China’s National Development and Reform Commission released a five-year plan for bio-economic development, which described efforts to accelerate new technologies and spur growth in health care, agriculture and fuel. As tensions mount between the U.S. and China, the Biden administration has looked for ways to curb investment in China’s industries.
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