President Biden’s Bioeconomy Executive Order (EO) has achieved important strategy documents and tools. However, the ambitious government-wide initiative still needs to develop foundational elements, according to tracking by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS).
The Sept. 13, 2022, Bioeconomy EO launched a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative, designed to accelerate biotechnology innovation and grow America’s bioeconomy across the health, agriculture, and energy sectors, according to the White House.
The Bioeconomy EO works to boost the bioeconomy by coordinating federal R&D funding, streamlining regulation, strengthening the use of data for research, expanding opportunities for bioenergy and biobased products, and supporting biotech education.
“With the U.S. bioeconomy valued at over $950 billion and predicted to steadily increase, the potential for significant economic impact is unmistakable,” according to a tracking report compiled by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS). “The Bioeconomy EO was an ambitious attempt at a whole of government approach. One year after its publication and implementation, we now have the opportunity to conduct a preliminary assessment to understand the impact the EO has had on the U.S. bioeconomy to date and to identify areas where there is still room for improvement and growth.”
The Bioeconomy EO’s progress
At this point in the process, the Bioeconomy EO offers a strategy and framework. The Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing by the Office of Science and Technology Policy describes what should be achieved with this strategy. Several other federal agencies have produced tools and reports to support the strategy.
Publications thus far include:
What needs to be done on the Bioeconomy EO
“The foundational pieces that underpin the bioeconomy strategy have yet to be established,” according to the FAS. Specifically, they list the following components:
- Consensus on the scope of the U.S. bioeconomy.
- Consensus on how to better measure different aspects of the bioeconomy (i.e. biological resources, biotech, biomanufacturing, and sustainability).
- Development of an updated classification system needed to more accurately analyze the U.S. bioeconomy.
- Increased capacity within federal agencies to properly research and analyze the U.S. bioeconomy.
- A coordinating body within the federal government to oversee and guide the U.S. bioeconomy.
- Synergistic interoperability between federal agencies.
Further executive orders should begin with the foundation in place—or with a plan to build a foundation through individual tasks. Monitoring has also provided lessons on how to handle such an ambitious cross-agency executive order, according to FAS.
Early lessons include the need to consider existing agency resources available for this work and the need for strong coordination.
“For the future success of the U.S. bioeconomy, it will be imperative to establish a body to coordinate efforts, ensure seamless communication, and foster interoperability between agencies,” FAS says.