Breeders concerned about White House executive order on biotech

Breeders concerned about White House executive order on biotech

The White House announced an Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy. It outlines a “whole-of-government approach to advancing biotechnology and biomanufacturing towards innovative solutions in the areas of health, climate change, energy, food security, agriculture, supply chain resilience of supply and national and economic security”.

On the face of it, the Executive Order promotes a science- and risk-based system to support the development and use of biotechnology products. American cattle producers are regular consumers of products developed using biotechnology, ranging from livestock feeds derived from genetically modified ingredients to medically important vaccines administered to livestock to treat and prevent disease.

However, the executive order directs the Secretary of Agriculture to “submit a report evaluating how to use biotechnology and biomanufacturing for food and agricultural innovation, including… the cultivation of alternative food sources.”

During a press conference held in anticipation of the publication of this decree, a senior official of the administration further specified that “we are also seeking to improve food security and stimulate agricultural innovation, in particular through new technologies that protect crops from disease, improve seeds and fertilizers and foods made with cultured animal cells.

US Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) President Brooke Miller released the following statement:

“The cultivation of animal cells for human consumption does not advance the goals of the Biden administration in supporting independent agricultural producers. Instead, it promotes corporate, consolidated control of the food supply system. Cell culture products cannot be produced independently – the technology is surrounded by intellectual property protection and requires intensive capital resources. These factors could lead to the monopolistic control of America’s sovereign food supply that we already see today in America’s livestock and meat industries.

“USCA applauds the Biden administration’s $1 billion investment to strengthen independent producers and processors of healthy, nutrient-dense animal protein. However, this executive order goes against that investment by offering increased funding and support to the huge multinational corporations that are driving the production of cultured animal cells. The record profits these companies have made on the backs of cattle farmers should be more than enough to fund their petri-dish protein production. American taxpayers should not foot the bill for a product that we are not even sure is safe for human consumption. For these reasons, the USCA opposes the provisions of this executive order calling for the advancement of foods produced using cell culture technology.

Source: American Cattlemen’s Association