BIO Calls for Actions to Bolster IRA's Climate Investments by Advancing Biotech
As the Biden Administration begins implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization today called on the administration to take additional steps to foster the development and deployment of pioneering technologies that are critical to meeting the nation’s greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“By proactively advancing biotechnology, we can take bold and drastic action to tackle the climate crisis, bolster the climate investments made in IRA, and ensure the U.S. meets its emissions reduction goals,” wrote BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath in a letter to President Biden.
From swift implementation of tax credits for sustainable fuels and actions to increase federal procurement of biobased products, to leveraging the regulatory system to quickly deploy climate-positive biotechnologies and incentivize their use, BIO outlined several steps that federal agencies should take to complement the climate investments made by IRA and realize the full climate-positive potential of biotechnologies and bioproducts.
BIO staunchly opposed passage of IRA due to its damaging and counterproductive provision establishing government price controls on prescription drugs, which will erect barriers to developing much-needed new therapeutics and combating future pandemics. However, BIO also has acknowledged that the historic investments to tackle climate change will advance environmental and public health goals and encourage investment in the biotech industry’s agriculture and environment sector.
“Biotechnology is enabling a dramatic paradigm shift in the production of fuels and chemicals,” BIO wrote the president. “More biorefineries are converting domestic sources of renewable biomass, wastes, and residues into sustainable low carbon fuels, chemicals, and products.”
Actions the administration could take, according to BIO, to deploy biobased technologies and create more sustainable supply chains include
- Educating procurement officers on the benefits of the BioPreferred® program;
- Developing North American Industry Classification System codes for renewable chemicals and biobased products; and
- Streamlining the application and review process for companies applying for funding to bolster their biobased manufacturing capability through the USDA Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program.
BIO also renewed its call for a regulatory system that allows for swift adoption of biotech tools for farmers and ranchers.
“Agriculture continues to play a positive role in tackling climate change thanks to farmers’ increased use of biotech tools like precision plant breeding, biostimulants, microbial inoculants, and enhanced animal feed with enzymes,” BIO wrote, adding that farmers and ranchers could make even more environmental progress if federal agencies would issue long-delayed guidance and final rules for the use of biotechnology in agriculture.
Specifically, USDA’s incremental approach to exemptions from regulation is overly stringent for plants that could have been produced using conventional breeding. In addition, updates are needed to provide an efficient pathway to market for microbial technologies, FDA must issue guidance on new plant varieties produced through gene editing, and EPA needs to issue its final rules for products that increase a plant’s built-in pest resistance and reduce the need for pesticide applications.
The government also can and should play a “catalytic role,” added BIO, in providing guidelines for a credible carbon market that rewards farmers and ranchers who use innovative agricultural technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, sequester carbon and protect waterways.
The full letter is available here.