WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration on Wednesdayunveiled details of the president's Biotechnology ResearchInitiative, which proposes a 7 percent increase in federalfunding for biotechnology research in fiscal year 1993 to about$4 billion.

The increase, part of the proposed budget the president issending to Congress, would be $271 million more than fiscalyear 1992.

"This presidential initiative will maintain the United States'lead in health-related biotechnology research and will expandresearch in other critical areas, such as agriculture, energy andthe environment, where applications of biotechnology researchpromise significant breakthroughs," said Allan Bromley,assistant to the president for science and technology.

The initiative proposes nearly $1.7 billion for basic science andhealth biotechnology research, an $86 million, or 5 percent,increase over 1992. Increases also are sought for research inagricultural biology, manufacturing/bioprocessing, energy-related biotechnology and environmental biotechnology, as wellas infrastructure spending to support research.

The initiative is a product of a "Report on NationalBiotechnology Policy" issued by the White House Council onCompetitiveness in early 1991, Bromley said. The Council andthe White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)reviewed all federally funded biotechnology research andproduced recommendations for how to fund, coordinate and fillgaps in biotechnology research in next year's budget. Theinitiative is a product of this "crosscut."

Bromley said OSTP's Federal Coordinating Council on Science,Engineering and Technology (FCCSET) has been "more involvedin the development of the president's budget than in any timein the past. The crosscut is a major innovation and aconstructive approach to coordination and prioritization of ourfederal R&D activities."

Biotechnology programs involving 12 federal agencies werecoordinated under the plan. New programs covered by theinitiative include:

-- Development of biological sensor technology at theDepartment of Defense to improve threat detection at sea anddrug interdiction efforts.

-- Conservation and renewable energy research at theDepartment of Energy to develop cost-effective biofuels.

-- Identification and testing of forensic DNA analysis at theJustice Department to develop reliable and valid methods forDNA profiling.

-- Engineering research in bioprocessing and appliedbiotechnology at the National Science Foundation.

The NSF and the Department of Energy were the big winners inthe recommended distribution of 1993 biotechnology researchfunds across federal agencies, gaining $32 million (18 percent)and $61 million (34 percent), respectively, over fiscal 1992.

The only agency facing a cut is the Department of Agriculture.The president's budget recommends that its biotechnologyresearch funding be reduced by $11 million to $168 million, a 9percent decline over 1992.

-- Kris Herbst BioWorld Washington Bureau

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.