Padilla, Young Introduce Bills on Intersection of Biotech, Agriculture, and National Security

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.), both commissioners on the National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology (NSCEB), introduced a bipartisan package of bills focused on protecting America’s food security and agricultural supply chains, which are critical to U.S. national security.

Senator Padilla introduced the Agriculture and National Security Act, which would help identify and mitigate threats to food and agriculture, focusing on emerging technologies and establishing a Senior Advisor for National Security within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Padilla also introduced the Agricultural Biotechnology Coordination Act, which would establish the USDA Office of Biotechnology Policy to develop and coordinate department policies on biotechnology and biomanufacturing, and prevent duplicative federal efforts.

Senator Young introduced the Synthetic Biology Advancement Act, which would accelerate innovation in food and agriculture by establishing a National Synthetic Biology Center. Young also introduced the Biotechnology Oversight Coordination Act, which would streamline the federal government’s efforts on biotechnology and respond to calls for regulatory efficiency and clarity.

Padilla and Young will seek to include these bills in the upcoming Farm Bill. All four bills were endorsed by the NSCEB.

“Food security is national security. We must prioritize American agricultural and biotech innovation to strengthen our food supply chain as a critical infrastructure sector, while protecting our national security interests against rising global competition,” said Senator Padilla. “This bipartisan package will facilitate close coordination between the Department of Agriculture, national security agencies, and biotech stakeholders to secure our food and agricultural sector.”

“Biotechnology offers tremendous opportunities to strengthen America’s food security and agriculture innovation, both of which are critical to our national security. These bipartisan bills will help ensure the United States maintains its global leadership in emerging biotechnologies and that the benefits reach more Americans,” said Senator Young.

“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 NSCEB Chair Jason Kelly.

“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 NSCEB Vice Chair Michelle Rozo.

Senators Padilla and Young serve as Commissioners on the NSCEB, which was established by Sec. 1091 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022. The Commission began its work in 2023, with a formal mandate to conduct a thorough review of advances in emerging biotechnology, provide an interim report to the President of the United States and the Armed Services Committees within one year, and submit a final unclassified report within two years to the President and the committees, including recommendations for action by Congress and the federal government.

In addition to Senators Padilla and Young, the bipartisan Commission includes Representatives Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.-05) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.-17), in addition to outside experts. Companion legislation for the Biotechnology Oversight Coordination Act, the Agriculture and National Security Act, and the Agricultural Biotechnology Coordination Act is expected to be introduced this week in the House of Representatives.

Earlier this year, Padilla announced that the Commission issued its first round of findings and recommendations for policymakers in an interim report outlining the promise of biotechnology for U.S. national security and economic competitiveness and growth.

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