CRS publishes a primer on the bioeconomy | Bergeson and Campbell, PC
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a CRS report, updated September 19, 2022, titled The bioeconomy: an introduction. The report provides an overview of the bioeconomy, details the efforts of the United States and other selected nations regarding the bioeconomy, and offers policy considerations for strengthening the United States’ role in the global bioeconomy. The report does not examine the policies and programs of individual sectors that contribute to the bioeconomy (for examplebiofuels, biomanufacturing, pharmaceuticals or agriculture), but rather approaches the bioeconomy from a macro perspective.
According to the report, issues for consideration regarding the advancement of the U.S. bioeconomy that could be pursued by Congress include:
- Developing and Implementing a National Strategy: The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) and others have recommended that the federal government develop and regularly update a national bioeconomy strategy. As noted in our September 13, 2022 blog post, on September 12, 2022, President Joseph Biden signed Executive Order (EO) 14081 “to coordinate a whole-of-government approach to advancing biotechnology and biomanufacturing toward innovative solutions in areas of health, climate change, energy, food security, agriculture, supply chain resilience, and national and economic security According to the report, the policies and activities included in the “OE appear to respond to NASEM’s recommendation for a more comprehensive vision and approach to advancing the US bioeconomy. If Congress wishes to further support the US bioeconomy, it may consider codifying some of the efforts initiated under the OE or establish another high-level coordinating body responsible for developing, implementing and evaluating a comprehensive bioeconomy strategy. American crumb. It could also continue to support a more decentralized framework that encourages sector-specific programs and activities related to the bioeconomy. The report states that “[r]Regardless of the approach, sustaining bioeconomy policies and programs in presidential administrations and congresses will likely be necessary to maintain US leadership in the future bioeconomy. The report acknowledges that ensuring a long-term commitment, including the provision of sufficient resources, “is often difficult”.
- Investment in research and development (R&D): According to the report, many experts are calling for increased federal investment in R&D to maintain US leadership in the bioeconomy. In general, experts emphasize the life sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering and biotechnology for increased support, and many also point to the convergence of these disciplines. Beyond investments in basic and applied research in areas deemed essential for advancing the bioeconomy, some are calling for improvements in bioeconomy-related R&D infrastructure, including biomanufacturing platforms and pilot facilities. The report says Congress may find that a more holistic view of its investments and oversight in research, infrastructure, and biological data is needed. At least 25 federal agencies and departments support biologics R&D, and the jurisdiction of these agencies spans multiple congressional committees, making coordination, oversight, and consistency of bioeconomy policies and investments more difficult.
- Promotion of regional efforts: The report indicates that in order to have easy access to biological resources (for example, crops, forests), the implementation of many aspects of the bioeconomy will be regional and involve rural communities. According to the report, policies to encourage the development of bioeconomy clusters and regions, including resources for planning and creating networks that facilitate collaboration among diverse stakeholders, including businesses in divergent sectors and small businesses , are common. The report notes that it is unclear whether existing programs and efforts to support regional innovation and technology-based economic development, including in rural areas, are sufficient to advance the bioeconomy. Congress may review the size, scope, effectiveness, and synergy of existing programs, in addition to creating new programs or modifying existing programs to promote regional bioeconomy efforts.
- Creating a market for biobased products: The report states that an analysis by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that policies related to the bioeconomy mainly focus on supply or technological push (that’s to say, support for R&D and demonstration efforts). According to the report, the OECD highlighted the importance of public procurement in helping to create a market for bio-based products and recognized the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) BioPreferred program “as the most advanced effort to this regard “. Despite the program’s relative success, NASEM has identified some areas for improvement, including updating the reporting mechanisms involved in federal procurement of biobased products, setting procurement targets, and increasing funding for the program to enable increased awareness and standardized reporting.
- Developing a bioeconomy workforce: According to the report, “[t]There is broad consensus that access to skilled labor is essential to advancing the bioeconomy,” and “it is also clear that education and training in the bioeconomy must be multidisciplinary in nature. As noted by the OECD, “the long-standing conundrum of multidisciplinary education is the need for both breadth and depth to produce people with problem-solving abilities”. Moreover, according to the OECD, the bioeconomy workforce needs more undergraduates than PhDs. The report says Congress could review federal investments in bioeconomy training, education, and workforce development and the federal government’s progress in meeting the goals set out in its education strategic plan. science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
- Public Engagement and Acceptance: The report indicates that due to the importance of public acceptance, a number of countries have public engagement and awareness activities and policies. In a 2017 study, NASEM recommended that federal agencies invest in new methods to understand the ethical, legal, and societal (ELSI) implications of future biotech products. Congress may exercise additional oversight over federal efforts to increase public awareness and acceptance of biobased products and services and may also consider the level of resources allocated to ELSI-related research in federal agencies, as well as the coordination of these efforts.
- International collaboration: According to the report, most policies and strategies related to the bioeconomy are focused on the national level, with a few exceptions (for example, the European Union (EU)). In the United States, some states, such as Maine and Michigan, have entered into bilateral collaborations. The report says Congress “may consider the state of international collaboration on the bioeconomy and the need for congressional leadership in this regard.”
- Sustainability and creating a circular economy: A number of countries, particularly those in the EU, are increasingly linking their bioeconomy strategies and policies with action plans associated with creating a more sustainable economy and circular. Many countries see a link between the bioeconomy and a circular economy as a way to achieve a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Congress can consider the extent to which U.S. bioeconomy policies and activities can or should be linked and aligned with achieving the SDGs. Moreover, although the use of waste as a raw material is at the heart of a circular economy, its use often poses problems. Congress can review any regulatory or other obstacles to creating a circular economy.
The cross-cutting nature of the bioeconomy, in addition to the diversity of potential benefits associated with its growth and advancement, offers a number of reasons for the increased congressional interest in bioeconomy policy. The cross-cutting nature of the bioeconomy also poses potential challenges to effective policymaking, including policy harmonization and coherent governance. Moreover, it likely means that the growth and success of the US bioeconomy will depend, in part, on effective public-private partnerships in research, innovation, education, and workforce development. Transitioning to a bioeconomy would require sustained commitment, including balancing short-term actions and long-term planning, removing barriers to such a transition, and creating the opportunity for breakthrough innovation. Congress may decide that it is not necessary to reorganize or consolidate federal activities, including some longstanding efforts, into a bioeconomy framework. It may decide to pursue bioeconomy-related policies through new or existing sectoral efforts, or it may decide that current policies and activities are sufficient. Nonetheless, other countries are adopting policies and strategies to advance their bioeconomy. Such efforts have the potential to challenge U.S. leadership in biotechnology and other bioeconomy-related sectors that many consider essential to national security and economic competitiveness.