WASHINGTON -- The White House planned today to releasedetails of its biotechnology initiative, part of the more than $76billion President Bush pledged for support of emergingtechnologies in his State of the Union Address last night.

The president said his plan to ensure the long-term economicfuture of the nation required "common sense investments thatwill help us compete, long term, in the marketplace."

Said Bush: "We must encourage research and development. Myplan is to make the R&D tax credit permanent and to providerecord levels of support -- over $76 billion this year alone --for people who will explore the promise of emergingtechnologies."

According to the White House, the budget initiatives willinclude funds for biotech, materials science and high-performance computing, among other technologies. Theadministration was to conduct two press briefings today on thebiotech initiative and, according to White House officials, was torelease a 150-page report on the initiative on Friday.

Richard Godown, president of the Industrial BiotechnologyAssociation, told BioWorld he believed the initiative willincrease funding for biotechnology. "The increase will exceedthe general increase in the budget," said Godown. "We will see anew emphasis on federal support for biotechnology in the areasof energy, the environment, manufacturing and bioprocessing."

In his speech, Bush proposed extending the 20 percentresearch and experimentation tax credit through 1993.

As expected, he also announced a 90-day moratorium on newfederal regulations. "In those 90 days, major departments andagencies will carry out a top-to-bottom review of allregulations ... to stop the ones that will hurt growth and speedup those that will help growth," Bush said.

Godown said he hopes the moratorium will result in decisionsthat "establish a road map for the commercialization ofbiotechnology products." He said the Biotechnology WorkingGroup of the White House Council on Competitiveness will makerecommendations about the regulation of food and agriculturalproducts manufactured using biotechnology and predicted thatregulations on biopesticides will be published "very soon."

-- Steve Usdin BioWorld Washington Bureau

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