By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On August 3, 2023, the Joint Subcommittee on Environment, Innovation, and Public Health Sustainable Chemistry Strategy Team (Sustainable Chemistry ST) of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) published a report entitled Sustainable Chemistry Report: Framing the Federal Landscape. As reported in our January 19, 2021, memorandum, the fiscal year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) included the text of the bipartisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019. It established an interagency working group led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to coordinate federal programs and activities in support of sustainable chemistry. The report establishes the federal landscape and provides a high-level overview of relevant topical areas around sustainable chemistry. The Sustainable Chemistry ST notes that it is a state of science report that includes gaps and opportunities for the federal government. Following the report, the Sustainable Chemistry ST will develop a strategic plan for how the federal government can leverage these opportunities to make significant progress in addressing the identified data gaps.
The report includes the following definition of sustainable chemistry:
Sustainable chemistry is the chemistry that produces compounds or materials from building blocks, reagents, and catalysts that are readily-available and renewable, operates at optimal efficiency, and employs renewable energy sources; this includes the intentional design, manufacture, use, and end-of-life management of chemicals, materials, and products across their lifecycle that do not adversely impact human health and the environment, while promoting circularity, meeting societal needs, contributing to economic resilience, and aspiring to perpetually use elements, compounds, and materials without depletion of resources or accumulation of waste.
More information and an insightful commentary are available in our August 28, 2023, memorandum.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On June 27, 2023, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced the release of a new action plan intended to “rapidly and equitably expand biotechnology and biomanufacturing education and job training programs in the United States.” According to OSTP, biomanufacturing “is a critical aspect of advanced manufacturing that can drive new, sustainable alternatives across industries” and “can unlock new solutions in health, climate change, clean energy, food security, agriculture, supply chain resilience, and national and economic security.” OSTP states that the action plan will help propel continued investment in the bioeconomy and maintain America’s leadership in this sector by preparing more Americans for these jobs and build a diverse pipeline that includes women, people of color, people living in rural communities, and others underrepresented in emerging fields.
The action plan includes the following core recommendations, along with select new and ongoing actions that the Biden Administration is taking and will take -- in collaboration with employers, unions; state, local, and Tribal governments; high schools; institutions of higher education; industry associations; and other stakeholders:
- Expand and diversify the talent pool for biotechnology and biomanufacturing jobs and careers to promote innovation and advance equity;
- Strengthen worker-centered sector strategies and other partnerships between employers, labor organizations, community colleges, and other training providers to grow and diversify the bioworkforce;
- Develop and rigorously evaluate innovative approaches to education and training for biotechnology and biomanufacturing jobs and careers, scaling and promoting those found to be most effective;
- Partner with state, local, and Tribal governments, education and training providers, bioscience associations, unions and other worker-serving organizations, and other stakeholders to raise awareness about the promise and potential of careers in the bioworkforce; and
- Improve data and analytic capacity and cross-sector collaboration to advance equity and support effective workforce development -- including the development of industry-recognized credentials and competency models.
According to OSTP, the Biden Administration is already beginning to implement the action plan by taking the following actions:
- The National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will take action to expand partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCU), and Minority Serving Institutions (MSI);
- The U.S. Department of Education will create cross-sector collaborations through the Unlocking Career Success Initiative and launch a professional learning series focused on bioworkforce needs and the role of K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions;
- The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is prioritizing advanced manufacturing, including biomanufacturing, in key grant programs, such as the State Apprenticeship Expansion Formula grant;
- The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) will support a National Institute for Innovation in Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals pilot program designed to attract high school students into biopharmaceutical manufacturing career pathways; and
- NSF, in partnership with DOL, DOC, and other agencies, will convene a forum to build alignment on recognized competency models, development of new competency models where needed, and exploration of credentialing mechanisms for the bioworkforce.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
As reported in our March 30, 2023, blog item, on March 22, 2023, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a new report, Bold Goals for U.S. Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing: Harnessing Research and Development to Further Societal Goals. The report includes five sections, each presenting goals that highlight what could be possible with the power of biology. The goals set ambitious national targets for the next two decades to help establish research and development (R&D) priorities that will be critical to advance the bioeconomy. Each section also outlines the essential R&D needed to achieve these goals for the U.S. bioeconomy, opportunities for public-private collaboration, and recommendations for enhancing biosafety and biosecurity. The report notes that achieving these goals will require significant prioritization of R&D investments and other efforts across the U.S. government, as well as actions from the private sector; state, local, and Tribal governments; and international partners.
The report states that bold goals for the U.S. bioeconomy include, for example:
- Climate: In 20 years, demonstrate and deploy cost-effective and sustainable routes to convert biobased feedstocks into recyclable-by-design polymers that can displace more than 90 percent of today’s plastics and other commercial polymers at scale;
- Food and Agriculture: By 2030, reduce methane emissions from agriculture, including by increasing biogas capture and utilization from manure management systems, reducing methane from ruminant livestock, and reducing methane emissions from food waste in landfills, to support the U.S. goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent and the global goal of reducing methane emissions by 30 percent;
- Supply Chain: In 20 years, produce at least 30 percent of the U.S. chemical demand via sustainable and cost-effective biomanufacturing pathways;
- Health: In 20 years, increase the manufacturing scale of cell-based therapies to expand access, decrease health inequities, and decrease the manufacturing cost of cell-based therapies tenfold; and
- Cross-Cutting Advances: In five years, sequence the genomes of one million microbial species and understand the function of at least 80 percent of the newly discovered genes.
According to this report, reaching these goals will require progress in other areas beyond R&D to ensure that innovation can lead to safe, effective, and equitable products that will grow the bioeconomy. The report states that in forthcoming reports and plans, departments and agencies will outline recommendations and steps that are underway to advance the following:
- Data for the bioeconomy -- Establishing a Data Initiative to ensure that high-quality, wide-ranging, easily accessible, and secure biological data sets can drive breakthroughs for the U.S. bioeconomy;
- Domestic biomanufacturing infrastructure -- Expanding domestic capacity to manufacture all the biotechnology products invented in the United States and to support a resilient supply chain;
- Workforce development -- Growing training and educational opportunities for the biotechnology and biomanufacturing workforce of the future;
- Regulatory clarity and efficiency -- Improving the clarity and efficiency of the regulatory process for biotechnology products to help ensure products come to market safely and efficiently;
- Biosafety and biosecurity -- Creating a Biosafety and Biosecurity Innovation Initiative to reduce risks associated with advances in biotechnology and biomanufacturing; and
- International engagement R&D -- Pursuing cooperation through joint research projects and data sharing, while mitigating risks and reaffirming democratic values.
According to the report, OSTP will lead the development of a strategy and implementation plan to execute on R&D priorities and other actions identified in the report.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Carla N. Hutton
On January 12, 2023, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced the release of A Framework for Federal Scientific Integrity Policy and Practice, “a roadmap that will help strengthen scientific integrity policies and practices across the federal government.” The framework builds on the assessment of federal scientific integrity policies and practices described in the January 2022 report, Protecting the Integrity of Government Science, and draws from extensive input from federal agencies, as well as from across sectors, including academia, the scientific community, public interest groups, and industry. According to OSTP, the framework has several key components that federal departments and agencies will use to improve scientific integrity policies and practices, including:
- A consistent definition of scientific integrity for all federal agencies;
- A model scientific integrity policy to guide agencies as they build and update their policies; and
- A set of tools to help agencies regularly assess and improve their policies and practices.
The framework requires all agencies to designate a Scientific Integrity Official (SIO) and agencies that fund, conduct, or oversee research to designate a Chief Science Officer (CSO), and it establishes the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Scientific Integrity to oversee implementation of the framework and evaluate agency progress. Agencies are directed to adopt the following timeline:
- Within 120 days from public posting of the framework: OSTP and the Subcommittee will complete the reviews using the framework’s critical policy features for assessment;
- Within 180 days after public posting of the framework: Each agency should provide an opportunity for public input on its scientific integrity policies and practices, such as through a listening session or request for comment on its draft policy;
- Within 270 days from public posting of the framework: Final policies are due to OSTP. OSTP will compile and make public all agency policies, as well as all agencies’ designated CSOs and SIOs on a federal web page;
- Within 360 days from public posting of the framework and every two years thereafter: All agencies report to OSTP on their progress toward implementing the Framework; and
- For calendar year 2023 and annually thereafter: Each agency should publish, consistent with any requirements related to national security and privacy as well as any other applicable law, an annual report on the agency’s website.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) published on April 4, 2022, a request for information (RFI) from interested parties on federal programs and activities in support of sustainable chemistry. 87 Fed. Reg. 19539. OSTP notes that “[t]he term “sustainable chemistry” does not have a consensus definition and most uses of the term indicate that it is synonymous with “green chemistry.”” OSTP requests information on the preferred definition for sustainable chemistry. OSTP also seeks comments on how the definition of sustainable chemistry could impact the role of technology, federal policies that may aid or hinder sustainable chemistry initiatives, future research to advance sustainable chemistry, financial and economic considerations, and federal agency efforts. OSTP states that it will use comments provided in response to the RFI to address Subtitle E of Title II of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (Subtitle E), which includes the text of the bipartisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019. Subtitle E directs OSTP “to identify research questions and priorities to promote transformational progress in improving the sustainability of the chemical sciences.” Comments are due by 5:00 p.m. (EDT) on June 3, 2022. Additional Information is available in the B&C’s April 6, 2022, memorandum.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
On September 10, 2019, the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced in the Federal Register a request for information (RFI) on the U.S. bioeconomy. Calling for input from all interested parties on the U.S. bioeconomy, OSTP’s RFI aims to inform notable gaps, vulnerabilities, and areas to promote and protect in the bioeconomy that may benefit from federal government attention. Input from the public is welcome, including those with capital investments, those performing innovative research, and those developing enabling platforms and applications in the field of biological sciences. Of particular interest to OSTP are suggestions of areas of greatest priority within the bioeconomy. Comments are due on or prior to October 22, 2019.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Margaret R. Graham
On September 16, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), in collaboration with the White House, released two documents that will update the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology (Coordinated Framework) that was first rolled out by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 1986 and updated in 1992. The White House states that this is “an important step to ensure public confidence in the regulatory system for biotechnology products and to improve the transparency, predictability, coordination, and, ultimately, efficiency of that system.” The documents released are:
The Update document is intended to help product developers and the public understand what the regulatory pathway for products might look like. The White House states that the Update document presents information about agency roles and responsibilities in several forms, including:
- Graphics that illustrate agency-specific overviews of regulatory roles;
- Case studies that demonstrate how a product developer might navigate the regulatory framework, and;
- A comprehensive table that summarizes the current responsibilities and the relevant coordination across EPA, FDA, and USDA for the regulatory oversight of an array of biotechnology product areas.
The White House is seeking public comment on this proposed Update. The comment deadline will be 40 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.
The Strategy document, which the White House states “sets forth a vision for ensuring that the Federal regulatory system is equipped to assess efficiently the risks, if any, associated with future products of biotechnology while supporting innovation, protecting health and the environment, maintaining public confidence in the regulatory process, increasing transparency and predictability, and reducing unnecessary costs and burdens,” also details many existing activities at EPA, FDA, and USDA; new activities that have been instigated by the memorandum on “Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products,” which directed EPA, FDA, and USDA to update the Coordinated Framework; and key commitments that these three agencies will keep going forward to continue the modernization process. These commitments are:
- EPA, FDA, and USDA will review existing communication tools and, as appropriate, may revise existing or develop new user-friendly sources of regulatory information for product developers and the general public.
- EPA, FDA, and USDA are emphasizing their commitments to interagency communication and collaboration in order to make timely decisions on regulatory jurisdiction for biotechnology products and to optimize the review and use of scientific data for regulatory assessments.
- EPA and FDA intend to clarify their respective approaches for oversight of products developed using genome editing techniques, including, for example, pesticidal products at EPA and genetically engineered animals at FDA.
- EPA, FDA, and USDA will continue to examine their regulatory structures with the goal of clarifying how the U.S. Federal Government will regulate genetically engineered insects in an integrated and coordinated fashion to cover the full range of potential products.
- EPA, FDA, and USDA commit to reporting annually, for at least the next five years, on specific steps that they are taking to implement the Strategy, as well as any additional actions being taken to improve the transparency, predictability, and efficiency of biotechnology regulation and the coordination among the regulatory agencies.
- EPA, FDA, and USDA will continue to provide leadership in international fora to promote scientific competency, understanding of the U.S. regulatory approach, and regulatory compatibility worldwide for biotechnology products.
- EPA, FDA, and USDA commissioned a study by the National Academy of Sciences, entitled “Future Biotechnology Products and Opportunities to Enhance Capabilities of the Biotechnology Regulatory System.” This report is still forthcoming.
On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. (EDT), OSTP, EPA, FDA, and USDA will be participating in a conference call on the White House’s efforts in regards to the above. More information regarding registration for the call and submitting questions is available online.
More information concerning the Coordinated Framework, the memorandum on “Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products,” and other current biotechnology issues are available in our memoranda on our website under the key phrase “Biobased Products, Biotechnology.”
There is still no definitive answer as to whether the green/sustainable chemistry provisions in S. 697, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, will survive the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives conference committee process as lawmakers confer and prepare the final compromise legislation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) reform bill. Passed by the Senate on December 17, 2015, S.697 includes sustainable chemistry provisions in Section 27 entitled “Development and Evaluation of Test Methods and Sustainable Chemistry.” The TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576), which passed the House of Representatives on June 23, 2015, has no sustainable or green chemistry provisions and takes a much narrower view on TSCA reform. The sustainable chemistry section in S. 697 has been substantially amended from the approach outlined in the previous version of S. 697 passed by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in June 2015. These sustainable provisions were initially introduced in May 2015 in a green chemistry bill, S. 1446, by Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME). S. 697 does not include all of the provisions from S. 1446, such as a grant program to fund sustainable chemistry partnerships between industry and universities, and a National Academy of Sciences study, but does include funding, research, and support of green chemistry issues. The sustainable chemistry provisions in S. 697 are as follows:
- The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is to convene a National Coordinating Entity (Entity) for Sustainable Chemistry made up of various federal entities and chaired by the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development (ORD). The Entity has several duties, including:
- Those related to establishing the Sustainable Chemistry Initiative (described in detail in Section 27(d));
- Development of a national strategy for sustainable chemistry;
- Supporting establishment, through financial, technical, and other assistance, of partnerships between academia, non-governmental organizations, and companies to advance research, training, development of curricular materials and courses, etc.;
- Reporting to Congress two years after enactment of S. 697 on the Entity’s efforts and progress; and
- Submitting an implementation plan for sustainable chemistry to Congress three years after enactment.
Inside EPA has reported that Senator Coons is speaking with key members to allow the provisions to stay in through the compromise conferences. Inside EPA also reported that Senator Coons held a January 13, 2016, Capitol Hill briefing to garner support for the provisions, and that speakers at the briefing outlined the following green chemistry goals:
- To change the way chemists are taught to think about chemistry choices, to include an understanding of toxicology and environmental sciences, so that sustainability considerations inform all chemistry decisions;
- To develop novel chemical products and processes that are less hazardous than, and cost and performance competitive with, traditional technologies;
- To develop a deeper understanding of toxicological properties and mechanisms to inform chemistry decisions and design; and
- To recognize the fundamental limitations related to material selection and move to renewable or abundant resources as starting materials.
More information on S. 697 and how it compares with the previous version of the bill as well as with H.R. 2576 are available in Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.’s (B&C®) memorandum TSCA Reform: Detailed Summary of Key Changes in Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697) as Compared with S. 697 Passed by Senate EPW in June. Please also see B&C’s 2016 Forecast memorandum Predictions and Outlook for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention (OCSPP) 2016 for further analysis and discussion of likely legislative next steps regarding TSCA reform.