NCGA Calls for Open Communication as USDA Examines Biotech Regulatory Process
National Corn Growers Association Trade Policy and Biotechnology Chair John Linder, a farmer from Ohio, and Director of Biotechnology and Crop Inputs Nathan Fields took part in a meeting hosted by the Biotechnology Regulatory Service to share with stakeholders how the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to approach new rulemaking around part 340. This section of code, which is used to regulate the approval and deregulation of biotechnology products, is currently under review by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, under which BRS falls.
“We are encouraged that the USDA reached out to stakeholders in this way, keeping them updated in a timely manner as the review process proceeds,” said Linder. “By decreasing unnecessarily burdensome processes and delays, while maintaining the highest level of safety and careful review, USDA will help farmers gain access to the cutting edge products that they need to face ever-evolving challenges in the fields.”
In describing how the USDA will approach rulemaking, BRS officials conveyed two points of particular importance.
First, USDA will attempt to reduce the regulatory burden registration extension. This would, in real world terms, mean that technology providers would only have to gain approval for each trait and, after deregulation, would be able to extend that approval in stacks with very specific additional information. Additionally, it would allow for expedited approval of traits already approved for use in another crop.
Second, USDA would likely move from a product-by-product assessment to a system that relies more heavily on an upfront risk assessment of new technologies. In doing so, it would create a clearer landscape for technology companies at an earlier stage, thus allowing them greater freedom to operate.
Notably, BRS representatives stressed that the USDA has been and will continue to be engaged with all of the United States’ major trading partners as the process is developed to maximize potential synchrony with global markets.
The meeting, which was held in Riverside Park, Maryland, had the highest attendance of any stakeholder meeting of its type yet with more than 100 participating. The group consisted mainly of representatives of grower groups and technical companies with some from the grain trade also on hand.
NCGA will continue to engage with APHIS as this process moves forward and plans to submit remarks when the agency opens the public comment period on the notice of intent.