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    National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology (NSCEB)

    “Biotechnology probably will improve many aspects of human existence; however, the pursuit and possible application of these technologies may also create social and economic disruptions and raise numerous ethical questions.”

    The Office of the Director of National Intelligence

    Just as innovations in artificial intelligence will continue to rapidly revolutionize our approach to many aspects of life including national security, emerging biotechnology is on the same fast-track and it is imperative that we pay attention. For example, microbial proteins have been genetically engineered in a way that may help prevent billions of dollars in annual crop damage, and assist in decontaminating water. While these advancements have the potential to be harnessed for good such as this, it is important to realize that they also present new risks, particularly for national security. Earlier this year, the Select Committee on the CCP identified biotechnology as a focus area for not only near-peer competition but also the national security vulnerabilities in open access to Americans’ biological data and the potential for adversaries to exploit this to develop biological weapons.

    With Honor Action worked with For Country Caucus Member Rep. Seth Moulton and former Member Rep. Mike Gallagher, to establish the National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology (NSCEB) in 2021. Led by Dr. Jason Kelly and Dr. Michelle Rozo, the NSCEB is charged by Congress with conducting a thorough review of how advancements in emerging biotechnology and related technologies will shape the current and future activities of the Department of Defense. Senator Todd Young, a Marine Corps veteran and one of With Honor Action’s bipartisan allies in the U.S. Senate, serves as a commissioner.

    Additionally, in 2022, With Honor Action supported our biotechnology manufacturing industry in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023. The provision directed the Secretary of Defense to provide funding for and establish or designate manufacturing hubs to carry out research and development activities, as well as demonstration projects for future investments.

    In December 2023, the Commission provided an interim report, which detailed preliminary legislative recommendations, and is expected to submit a final, unclassified report in December 2024. The final report will include recommendations for bipartisan legislation that With Honor Action and the For Country Caucus plan to help pass into law and fully implement, similar to the actions taken with past commissions of critical national security importance, notably the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, and the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. 

    Recently, With Honor Action endorsed a slate of four legislative proposals from the Commission:

    • Agricultural Biotechnology Coordination Act, would establish a USDA Office of Biotechnology Policy
    • Agriculture and National Security Act, would establish a senior national security advisor position within the USDA
    • Biotechnology Oversight Coordination Act, would establish an interagency committee that would evaluate the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology efforts to produce proper regulatory requirements to biotechnology developers
    • Synthetic Biology Advancement Act, would establish a national synthetic biology center that would be responsible for awarding grants to colleges and universities over the next five years
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