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Biotechnology should be high on the agenda at the Munich Security Conference

this weekend’s munich security conference It will be haunted by the shadow of Donald Trump.his outrageous comment While president, he reportedly told NATO leaders that he would “encourage them” if they did not meet their financial obligations to NATO. [Moscow’s leaders] The words “do whatever they want” sent chills down the spines of already worried European leaders, especially those of small countries that border Russia. Indeed, as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stated, It pointed outcontrary to President Trump’s claims, “last year saw an unprecedented 11 percent increase in defense spending across European allies and Canada.”

President Trump’s deep-seated isolationism has previously put internationalist stalwarts like Sen. Lindsey Graham in extremely awkward positions. Earlier this week, the South Carolina senator announced he would no longer attend the Munich conference. The announcement marked a surprising turnaround for a man who has served as a key member of the U.S. Congressional delegation for more than a decade.

Nevertheless, despite President Trump’s outrage and Graham’s absence, the conference will still be a major forum for important national security discussions. As before, it will have a formidable presence not only in the United States but also in Europe. In addition, senior ministers and officials from East Asia, the Middle East, and Africa will also participate in the conference’s deliberations. It is therefore essential that the growing importance of biotechnology, and in particular its impact on national security, is one of the top issues for participants.

Biotechnology development, application, and manufacturing are rapidly emerging at a rate that mirrors the incredible growth of artificial intelligence over the past decade. And like artificial intelligence, biotechnology has major defense applications that have yet to be developed.a report As a recent report from the Congressional-mandated National Security Committee on Emerging Biotechnologies (of which, full disclosure, I am a member) notes: All thanks to biotechnology. ” The report added for emphasis: “This is not science fiction. Research is being done today.”

Biotechnology and biomanufacturing can increase the resilience of supply chains and reduce dependence on unfriendly countries by providing alternative means of producing chemicals and materials that warfighters use on a daily basis. I can. Additionally, biotechnology offers the potential to create products and materials that are far more effective and efficient than those currently available. These include biomaterials for rocket fuel and next-generation explosives. Advanced materials such as spider silk can be woven into stronger yet more flexible bulletproof vests. Biological sensor. and more personalized and effective medicines for combatants.

It is noteworthy that China is pouring billions of dollars into biotechnology research and development, especially aimed at giving its military a unique advantage on the battlefield. The Chinese government has mobilized both military and non-military sectors, blurring the lines between military and civilian biotechnology applications, as in many other areas. The Chinese government has established a number of new companies dedicated to further advances in biotechnology, and has no qualms about building large databases of personal genetic information to support research.

China is not alone in pursuing advances in biotechnology. Other potential adversaries, including non-state actors, could exploit biotechnology, especially when combined with artificial intelligence, to enhance threats to American and allied forces and interests.

In response to accelerating advances in biotechnology, the Department of Defense on January 31 launched The Distributed Bioindustrial Manufacturing Investment Program (DBMIP) “aims to strengthen the domestic supply chain and maintain America’s global prominence in biotechnology.” The program “makes investments through the Defense Industrial Base Consortium (DIBC) Other Transaction Agreements (OTAs) to lower barriers for the Department of Defense to work more quickly with small businesses, non-traditional businesses, and large corporations. Helpful.”

NATO has created the North Atlantic Defense Innovation Accelerator (DIANA), which also aims to invest in innovative technologies such as biotechnology. These investments will address both defense and security challenges and, just as importantly, help shape global standards for how these technologies are used. The EU has also started working on its own roadmap for biotechnology development.

For the foreseeable future, the United States will remain the leader in biotechnology research and development, but its lead is extremely tenuous, hence the urgency of the DPMIP. Indeed, in some areas, such as large-scale manufacturing of new biotechnology products, the United States lags behind some European allies. In this regard, the National Security Council on Emerging Biotechnologies has proposed ways to improve biomanufacturing infrastructure and production capacity, and how to expand the infrastructure supporting biotechnology manufacturing from large-scale single production facilities to small-scale production facilities. We are evaluating ways to transition to more localized and flexible facilities.

Applications of biotechnology have the potential to significantly change geopolitical dynamics. China has long understood this reality. But despite its leadership in actual biotechnology research and development, the United States has only come to understand the implications of biotechnology for both its own security and the security of its allies and partners. It happened only recently.

In addition to the Department of Defense’s efforts, similar efforts are taking shape across the U.S. government, along with those of NATO, the European Union, its member states, and other allies and partners, whose representatives will be in Munich this weekend. — Work in a coordinated way. Only then can we collectively ensure that this emerging technology strengthens our collective national security by preventing its misuse and leveraging the promise of a more efficient and effective common defense. can be guaranteed.

Dov S. Zakheim is Center for Strategic and International Studies and Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors Foreign Policy Research Institute. He served as the Under Secretary of Defense (Inspector General) and Chief Financial Officer of the Department of Defense from 2001 until 2004, and from 1985 until 1987.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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