Marco Rubio: Bioeconomy Research and Development Act Will Help With Vaccines

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is championing a proposal from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, to help America’s bioeconomy which, they say, can help with future vaccines.

Last week, Gillibrand introduced the “Bioeconomy Research and Development Act” with Rubio, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Col. and U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., as cosponsors.

“As scientists and researchers rush to develop a vaccine for COVID-19, the Bioeconomy Research and Development Act of 2020 would strengthen and broaden engineering biology by establishing an initiative to promote research and development, advance biomanufacturing, develop the future bioeconomy workforce, and establishes safeguards to ensure the research is secure and conducted ethically. The legislation would also establish a committee to coordinate all federal research in engineering biology across the federal agencies,” Rubio’s office insisted.

“The preservation of the American economy is reliant on cutting edge innovation, technology, and discovery,” Rubio said at the end of last week. “Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is more important now than ever that we invest in engineering biology research to help scientists working to develop a vaccine, while also establishing a legal framework to safeguard the research. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to strengthen both our economy and our research capability.”

“Investing in engineering biology research is critical for our country, now and for our future,” Gillibrand said. “In addition to helping scientists develop a vaccine to protect Americans from coronavirus, engineering biology research touches everything from our food, to our environment, to our health care. Strengthening and coordinating our nation’s research initiatives will not only make us safer, but it will bolster our economy and put the United States at the forefront of global research leadership. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan bill in the Senate.”

“Biotechnology and life sciences innovation drive our bioeconomy, and this legislation will ensure that the United States remains a leader in engineering biology research and innovation, supporting the hundreds of thousands of workers in the health, energy, agriculture, and manufacturing sectors that contribute to this field. Massachusetts is more than the Bay State, we are the Brain State and our state’s bioeconomy is our lifeblood,” Markey said. “The coronavirus pandemic has shown us how important it is to coordinate science research and stay at the forefront of health technology, whether it is detecting new viruses or rapidly developing vaccines. This bill will enable us to better coordinate bioengineering research and ensure we remain a global leader.”

“Like the technological revolution and the Industrial Revolution before it, the biological revolution will reshape how we interact with and understand the world around us,” Gardner said. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to develop a stronger bioeconomy, which will lead to new scientific developments like improved vaccines and innovations in agriculture, food, medicine, clothing, and more.”

The bill would create an initiative through the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) which would “advance research and development, advance biomanufacturing, develop the future bioeconomy workforce, and support research in ethical, legal, environmental, safety, security, and societal issues.” The proposal would also coordinate federal agencies’ efforts when it comes to biology research.

The bill has the support of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Cornell University’s Boyce Thompson Institute, Cornell University’s Alliance for Science, the president of the Hastings Center for bioethics research, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the National Organization of Rare Disorders, the American Society for Microbiology, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and SynBioBeta.

Gillibrand’s proposal was sent to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. So far, there is no counterpart over in the U.S. House.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

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