On September 12, 2022, President Biden issued Executive Order 14081, Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe, and Secure American Bioeconomy. The order aims to significantly aid food security, supply chain resilience and environmental health. However, the Non-GMO Project is gravely concerned about how biotechnology is applied to food. We believe the executive order’s wholesale embrace of biotechnology is a distraction from indigenous, natural and non-GMO methods for growing food — methods that have already proven successful.
The Non-GMO Project agrees with international bodies such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on World Food Security that agroecological food systems offer the best tools to address the challenges in the coming decades. Biotechnology is a costly divergence of funds that takes us away from building a truly regenerative and sustainable food system.
The executive order fundamentally misrepresents the nature of biological systems. It imagines genetic material and cells as a collection of programmable entities, like computers or software. This simplification of complex relationships distorts our relationship with the natural world. Building a food system based on biotechnology preserves our current extractive view of natural resources, continuing to degrade soil health, biodiversity and our ability to nourish ourselves.
With its unqualified support for novel biotechnology, the executive order will encourage the ongoing privatization of the food supply, placing even more of our shared resources into the hands of a few multinational corporations. It ensures continued prosperity for agrichemical and biotechnology companies at the expense of food security, environmental resilience, health and equality.
There are more promising paths to achieve our shared food security and supply chain resilience goals. Global experts agree that holistic systems, including regional agroecological approaches to food production, offer accessible and cost-effective tools to ensure food security, human rights, biodiversity and environmental regeneration.
We are now 30 years into the GMO experiment. We have heard this story before. Biotechnology in the food space continues to overpromise and underdeliver, increasing the need for costly and destructive inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers while failing to address hunger in the most vulnerable populations. Most troubling, perhaps, is that this has diverted billions of dollars – and millions of acres – toward failed systems, and created barriers to promising new ones. We can no longer make decisions that benefit the few. We must work toward a state of mutual prosperity with each other and our environment, boldly embracing production systems that work with nature rather than against it.