The President of the United States Joe Biden has signed a new executive order which embraces the power of biotechnologies and foodtech as a means to bolster food security.
Biotechnology within food can refer to innovative technologies like microbial fermentation and cellular cultivation, among others.
According to the executive order, such technologies can be used “to achieve our climate and energy goals, improve food security and sustainability, secure our supply chains, and grow the economy across all of America”.
Biotechnology solutions are seen as promising ways to side-step issues relating to food security because they require markedly fewer resources to work.
Protein produced using fermentation or cellular agriculture has a lower environmental impact that traditional animal agriculture, while still offering similar nutritional benefits.
Biden’s order goes on to say that for biotechnologies to have the maximum impact on the US, the country must invest in “foundational scientific capabilities”.
This, it says, includes developing genetic engineering technologies, but also measures to reduce biological risks associated with the practices.
To do this, Biden has confirmed his government will first and foremost “bolster and coordinate Federal investment in key research and development areas”.
Other commitments mentioned in the order include the expansion of domestic biomanufacturing production capacities and processes, and the training of a “diverse, skilled workforce”.
It is not yet clear how these promises will be actioned, however the order does state that within 180 days of Biden’s signing, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Energy, Agriculture and Commerce, as well as the Director of the National Science Foundation will be required to submit reports relating to the furthering of biotechnologies.
The Secretary of Agriculture, Democrat politician Thomas Vilsack, will be tasked with reporting on how biotechnologies can be used for food and agriculture innovation.
The report will explore ideas such as “improving sustainability and land conservation; increasing food quality and nutrition; increasing and protecting agricultural yields; protecting against plant and animal pests and diseases; and cultivating alternative food sources.”
Countries are increasingly throwing their weight behind innovative food technologies. Denmark has announced millions in funding this year for R&D projects focused on plant-based tech.
Meanwhile Norway pledged to invest in cellular agriculture over the summer, stating that the technology could help secure the ‘food of the future’.
And earlier this month, Israel officially designated foodtech as a national priority. This decision will ensure foodtech projects within the country are well funded through government grants as well as private sources.