This concept is linked to bioeconomy strategy, which was adapted by the European Commission in 2012 as Innovating for Sustainable Growth of "circular cities," or smart cities . Following this, the bioeconomy strategy was updated in line with the objectives of the U.N. 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement, as the "EU Updated Bioeconomy Strategy" of 2018.
While the White House acknowledges that the bioeconomy is mostly known in the context of health today, the E.O, outlines the need for biotech manufacturing as a means to help "achieve our climate and energy goals, improve food security and sustainability, secure our supply chains, and grow the economy across all of America."
The Executive Order goes on to describe how biotech will be used, and why this private industry warrants the focus of federal dollars and all agencies.
"For biotechnology and biomanufacturing to help us achieve our societal goals, the United States needs to invest in foundational scientific capabilities. We need to develop genetic engineering technologies and techniques to be able to write circuitry for cells and predictably program biology in the same way in which we write software and program computers; unlock the power of biological data, including through computing tools and artificial intelligence; and advance the science of scale‑up production while reducing the obstacles for commercialization so that innovative technologies and products can reach markets faster."
Many have sounded the alarm starting with 9/11, only to be shrugged off as "conspiracy theorists," for their cited concerns related to data collection used to create digital dictatorships, similar to Orwell's 1984. Dr. Yuval Noah Harari of The World Economic Forum, on the other hand, now says we should just get used to the idea because it's already here.
“In the past, many tyrants and governments wanted to [hack millions of people], but nobody understood biology well enough,” Harari stated at a recent conference. "And nobody had enough computing power and data to hack millions of people. Neither the Gestapo nor the KGB could do it. But soon, at least some corporations and governments will be able to systematically hack all the people,” he goes on to say, adding, “We humans should get used to the idea that we are no longer mysterious souls. We are now hackable animals.”
But Dr. Harari says this merger of human life with technology will not benefit the average person so that he or she may improve their own future. Instead, Harari claims a handful of “elites” will not only “build digital dictatorships,” for themselves but “gain the power to re-engineer the future of life itself. Because once you can hack something, you can usually also engineer it.”
In addition, E.O 13985 pledges significant federal funding specific to minority and undeserved communities, in order to study and provide recommendations for identifying inadequacies in existing Federal data collection programs, policies, and infrastructure across agencies and implement actions that "expand and refine the data available to the Federal Government to measure equity and capture the diversity of the American people."
According to the U.N. and the World Economic Forum, biotechnology will help to monitor and regulate how citizens participate in the world around them. A 2017 Forum, hosted in Stockholm, Sweden, outlines some of the pros and cons of human rights in the era of the internet of things, and smart city infrastructures in which bio-technologies and the internet of bodies will be integrated.
The creation and stakeholders behind smart cities have been largely shrouded in secrecy, until recently. Opponents point to this lack of disclosure as a barrier to understanding whose definitions of human rights will be adapted. Considering the rapid implementation of these policies in the wake of COVID-19, concerns and rumors have already began to circulate on social media, related to the virus and mRNA vaccines.
For example, social media posts cite a 2013 Supreme Court Case, which granted Myriad Genetics a patent on the company's synthetic cDNA sequence. The Court's ruling stated that DNA manipulated in a lab is eligible to be patented because DNA sequences altered by humans are not found in nature. The Court specifically mentioned the ability to patent a type of DNA known as complementary DNA (cDNA), a type of synthetic DNA that is expressed as a protein, after receiving cellular instructions from messenger RNA (mRNA). While this theory of patenting humans, post vaccination, has largely been debunked by online sources, critics argue that grey areas exist in the law related to privacy, access, and implementation of the bioeconomy.
Building out the infrastructure for bio-security now appears to be a race against time. However, with trust in the government at an all-time low, individuals from across the political spectrum are voicing concerns for centralized control in the hands of a few. Time will tell how these policy adaptations will impact South Dakotans, farming, business, and day-to-day life.
Stay tuned for this Friday's Dakota Leader Radio Show at noon central time, to learn more.
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--Breeauna Sagdal- Health and Policy Journalist for The Dakota Leader