Let’s end this animal biotech turf war

February 21, 2020
Happy Friday. Before you get into weekend mode, we’ve got news on the animal biotech turf war in Washington—but if you’re already there, grab another cup of coffee and kick back with our two new videos recapping the BIO CEO & Investor Conference.  Here are about 800…
BIO

Happy Friday. Before you get into weekend mode, we’ve got news on the animal biotech turf war in Washington—but if you’re already there, grab another cup of coffee and kick back with our two new videos recapping the BIO CEO & Investor Conference. 

Here are about 800 words, which you can read in 4 minutes.

Let’s end this animal biotech turf war

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue “floated the possibility of USDA and the Food and Drug Administration splitting regulatory responsibilities over gene-edited animals,” reports Agri-Pulse—a sign the government may, finally, be hearing our concerns about the animal biotech regulatory process.

A couple weeks ago, FDA published commentary and a press release to stand firm in their view they should continue to have responsibility for assessing and approving animal biotech using a “risk-based approach.”  

And BIO quickly responded, writing in Agri-Pulse that while we agree on the need for pre-market review of animal biotech, the current regulatory system is opaque and cumbersome, needlessly bureaucratic, and vastly disproportionate to actual risk—after all, just one animal biotech food product has been approved in 20+ years. 

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue now seems to echo our concerns, saying the regulatory system will make the United States “a follower rather than a leader in the new technologies.” 

And he suggested the turf war could end soon: “We’re actually in the process of working with FDA currently to help divide up the responsibilities, hopefully with an agreeable type of consensual [memorandum of understanding] with FDA” over new breeding techniques, he said, with USDA having oversight over “food animal breeding” and FDA over “any other animals.” 

We’re encouraged, but nothing’s final yet—so we’re continuing to reinforce our position and bring attention to the need to find a workable solution. 

Dana’s Dialogue: It’s encouraging to hear Secretary Perdue note that they are looking to work with FDA to find a solution, and we’ll continue to support the government in that process. If we are to truly realize the benefits of animal biotechnology—such as the ability to eradicate animal disease and drive sustainability—we need a new system that is science-based and allows innovation to thrive. – Dana O'Brien, BIO's EVP of Food & Agriculture

 

More Agriculture & Environment News:

Reuters: Trump's agriculture department announces 30% biofuel goal for 2050
“The biofuel goal, which also included getting the blend rate to 15% in 10 years, is part of a new department-wide sustainability initiative aiming to boost farm production by 40% and cut the farm sector’s environmental impact by 50% during the same period. The environmental goal also could deflect criticism from farmers and ethanol producers in an election year.”

 
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Watch how policy and diversity affect biotech investment

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Did you miss the BIO CEO & Investor Conference? We’re not gonna lie, you missed a lot—but luckily, we captured the highlights for you. Head to BIO’s YouTube channel for the key takeaways on how policy and diversity and inclusion affect biotech investment and innovation. 

Takeaway #1: Decisions in Washington affect biotech investment in a major way, many speakers explained

The big challenge: “[H]ow do you find the enormous amount of investment you need to proceed with innovation that saves lives and makes peoples’ lives better?” asked Peter Pitts, President & Co-Founder, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. “If investors don’t think that there’s a friendly environment for innovation, those dollars will go elsewhere.” 

Legislation can hurt or help. An international price index, for example, would stymie investment—but other policies, such as reform to Medicare Part D, could help patients and improve overall health access without hurting new cures. 

Takeaway #2: Diversity and inclusion is good business, especially for an industry serving diverse, multicultural patients

The right mix matters: “If you have an organization that does not look like the society you’re recruiting from, you probably don’t have the best talent,” said Dr. Ted W. Love, President & CEO of Global Blood Therapeutics. 

But we need to do more to make this a reality. BIO’s new report, Measuring Diversity in the Biotech Industry: Building an Inclusive Workforce, explores ideas on where to start. 

And you can start with your board. This video explains how.

 
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The overall takeaway: It’s a challenging investment environment for biotech, but with the right policy and diverse talent, the industry can develop the next generation of cures and thrive. As we dive into the new decade, BIO’s helping the industry on both fronts. 

Read more about the conference and how policy and D&I can drive investment in new cures:

More Health Care News: 

Bloomberg Law: FDA gets ready for changes to biologics regulation
“The Food and Drug Administration, in a rule set to publish Friday in the Federal Register, squares its regulatory definition for those drugs, called biologics, with the definition Congress agreed to in a spending deal in December 2019.”

 
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President Trump’s Friday: Campaign rally at the Las Vegas Convention Center—that’s a huge venue, FYI—then back to Washington tonight.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The House and Senate are in recess, but back to work next week.

 
 
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