The National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology announces introduction of agriculture bills

23 May 2024


Washington, DC

Today, the National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology (NSCEB) applauds its Congressional Commissioners—Senators Padilla and Young and Representatives Bice and Khanna—for introducing the legislative recommendations from its first report.

As laid out in the NSCEB’s authorizing statute, the Commission has four sitting members of Congress appointed among its Commissioners. This enables the work to be uniquely bipartisan and bicameral, with intuitive champions for bringing policy recommendations through the legislative process.

“We are especially excited about these bills because they emphasize that biotechnology’s promise extends far beyond pharmaceuticals and therapeutics. These policy recommendations will catalyze continued American agriculture innovation and food security, both of which are essential components of national security,” said Chair Jason Kelly.

Recognizing that food security and agricultural supply chains are key elements of national security, the Commission developed its first three legislative proposals: the Agriculture and National Security Act, the Agricultural Biotechnology Coordination Act, and the Biotechnology Oversight Coordination Act. These bills direct the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other agencies to consider emerging technology in multiple ways. Each bill makes structural improvements that strengthen the government’s abilities at the intersection of national security and emerging biotechnology.

Agriculture and National Security Act: Designated as critical infrastructure, U.S. agriculture consists of complex, integrated networks with many potential failure points. This bill recognizes the need to identify and mitigate threats to food and agriculture, particularly with regard to emerging technologies. It would establish a new USDA Senior Advisor for National Security to work in partnership with the USDA Office of Homeland Security; encourage employee exchange between USDA and national security and intelligence agencies; and instruct the USDA to identify gaps related to food and agriculture in existing national security and intelligence efforts.

Agricultural Biotechnology Coordination Act: Within USDA, biotechnology policies and activities span multiple agencies working on research and development, extension and education, regulation, labeling, and trade. This bill would establish a USDA Office of Biotechnology Policy to coordinate these efforts. The office would also serve as a voice for biotechnology developers, academics, farmers, and others that may be affected by changes to biotechnology policies.

Biotechnology Oversight Coordination Act: This bill builds on Federal efforts to coordinate U.S. biotechnology regulation, responding to developers’ calls for regulatory efficiency and clarity. The bill would, for the first time in the nearly 40-year history of U.S. biotechnology regulation, require interagency coordination in statute. The Commission is considering additional recommendations to improve U.S. biotechnology regulation and to address how regulation by trading partners affects U.S. biotechnology companies.

“All of the Commission’s work to date has been grounded in ongoing dialogue with stakeholders across the U.S. and abroad. These legislative recommendations, championed by our Congressional Commissioners, are public proof that we are not just listening but acting to ensure a strong biotechnology ecosystem,” said Vice Chair Michelle Rozo.

In addition to the bills described above, the Senate package includes the Synthetic Biology Advancement Act (originally sponsored by Commissioner Senator Young and endorsed by the Commission). This would create a Synthetic Biology Center under USDA with a focus on the application of synthetic biology to food security and agriculture. Endorsing legislation is another mechanism that the NSCEB can use to promote good policy options.

“The Commission’s proposals on biotechnology for these bills are an early demonstration of our work to identify and present recommendations to Congress to help shape major legislation. The commission looks forward to delivering its next report, which will focus on presenting legislative opportunities for U.S. leadership at the nexus of national security and emerging biotechnology,” said Commissioner Paul Arcangeli.

The Commission was pleased to see the importance of biotechnology reflected in the House Agriculture Committee’s discussion draft for the Farm, Food, and National Security Act of 2024. New USDA Centers for Excellence focusing on biotechnology and biosecurity and reauthorization of USDA programs focusing on genetic resources, genomics, and phenomics will help fill knowledge gaps and contribute biotechnology-driven solutions in agriculture and beyond. The Commission also supports continued efforts to improve the clarity and efficiency of regulatory processes for biotechnology products, including incorporation of parts of the Plant Biostimulants Act (sponsored by Senator Padilla and endorsed by the Commission) in the discussion draft.


About NSCEB: The National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology is a legislative branch advisory entity whose purpose is to advance and secure biotechnology, biomanufacturing, and associated technologies for U.S. national security and to prepare the United States for the age of biotechnology. The Commission submitted an interim report to the President and the Armed Services Committees in December 2023 and will publish a comprehensive report in early 2025, including recommendations for action by Congress and the federal government. The bipartisan Commission is composed of twelve Commissioners with members from both the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as experts from industry, academia, and government. For more information about the Commission, visit