Agricultural industry split over prospects of government not regulating gene editing as part of reform of biotechnology regulations

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Crop developers say USDA’s effort to streamline its regulation of biotech crops will still slow the commercialization of many gene-edited products, but grain traders and processors say the department’s “fundamentally flawed” proposal goes too far and could lead to trade disruptions.

Under the proposed rule issued in June, bioengineered plants would be exempted from regulation by USDA if the modifications could be produced through traditional breeding techniques, making them unlikely to pose a greater plant pest risk than conventionally bred crops.

Crop developers would have three options under the proposed rule: They would be allowed to decide on their own whether their modifications are exempt from regulation; Companies could seek confirmation letters from USDA of the exempt status; Or they could ask USDA to determine whether the trait is regulated or not.

The National Grain and Feed Association, Corn Refiners Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Export Grain Association and North American Millers Association … warned, “If the U.S. government’s regulatory oversight approach to genome editing and other plant breeding innovation is out of step with the domestic food industry or America’s significant export markets, it will have perilous repercussions for the grain and oilseed value chain, including U.S. farmers.”

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization and American Seed Trade Association urged USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to expand the proposed regulatory exemptions, which are based on the concept that modifications that could be achieved through “traditional breeding techniques” should not require USDA approval.

Read full, original article: USDA plan to ease biotech regs splits industry

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