President Biden's Latest Executive Order May Impact Food Technology

President Biden signed a recent executive order, sharing plans to help "advance biotechnology and biomanufacturing" in the U.S., prioritizing innovation and research in a number of fields, including industries like health, climate change, energy, and agriculture. This is big news in the world of bioengineered food, as it encourages growth in a sector that — while controversial — may become necessary. FoodDive explains that bioengineered food is the label given to GMOs, or genetically modified foods, and though most people think of healthcare or other industries when they hear "biotech" the technology is also how most genetically modified foods are created.

People across the world are dealing with increased levels of food insecurity, due to a variety of issues like supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine, and climate change. LabioTech states that bioengineered foods can help address food scarcity issues, thanks to a process called precision fermentation, which uses "genetically engineered microorganisms" to create traditionally animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and honey, per Forbes. The outlet shares the process is being heralded by companies using it as more sustainable than traditional livestock farming methods.

The debate continues

While some people might be wary of genetically modified foods, if you're living in the U.S., it's likely you're already eating them. The USDA reports over 90% of corn and soybeans in the country are genetically modified, and there are three types of genetically modified animals that are raised for food: salmon, pork, and beef (via FoodDive).

Many scientists insist that bioengineered foods are safe to consume, but opposition groups like the Non-GMO Project have still been vocal about their concerns with precision fermentation. In a press release, the Non-GMO Project claimed manufacturing synthetic dairy products "reinforces the loss of biodiversity" and is in fact bad for the environment. It should be noted that, like any other FDA-approved food product, bioengineered foods are held to the same safety standards as anything else you might buy at the store.

Despite the controversy, some suggest GMOs are needed if we want to be able to continue to feed the world's population by 2050. A 2019 World Resources Institute report named plant-based meat as a potential way to combat the ongoing food crisis, as well as using CRISPR gene-editing tech on crops. At this time, the White House is on board with forwarding bioengineering research, which it believes could help achieve global food security.