Future of Biotechnology

Hand Holding Black PenThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is hosting a series of webinars to collect feedback on specific questions (see below) to inform how products of agricultural biotechnology – i.e., genetically modified organisms (GMOs) – should be regulated. Each of the following webinars will be the same, and are scheduled at the following times:

Wednesday, May 6, 6-9 pm EDT

Tuesday, May 12, 5-8 pm EDT

Wednesday, May 20, 4-7 pm EDT

Background:

The USDA announced in March that it was ditching a 2008 proposal that would have updated regulations governing GMOs. We support this decision and encourage the rapid development of new and stronger regulations that aim to protect the environment, human health, and farmers and their markets from direct and indirect impacts resulting from genetically engineered (GE) crops.

When GE crops landed in our fields and grocery aisles, U.S. decision makers chose to rely on a patchwork of existing laws that predated the technology. This resulted in a mishmash of agency interpretations for regulating GMOs. This patchwork approach has left holes: the absence of mandated contamination prevention practices, post-market monitoring, and a mechanism for compensating those harmed by contamination, to name a few. Lacking a robust regulatory framework, the organic and broader non-GMO community has shouldered the costly burden of trying to protect their seed, crops, and markets, and dealing with contamination when it happens.

This is a historic opportunity to advocate for new and stronger GMO regulations.

We believe that stronger regulations can and should be implemented under the USDA’s current authority under the Plant Protection Act. APHIS should fill existing regulatory holes by:

  • Implementing its noxious weed authority as provided by the Plant Protection Act
  • Conducting independent analyses of potential socio-economic and environmental impacts
  • Mandating contamination prevention practices on the part of users/owners of GE crops
  • Creating a fair compensation mechanism for those harmed by contamination
  • Strengthening tracking and oversight of experimental field trials
  • Establishing a post-commercialization monitoring system of GE products
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