Regulatory Roundup

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NATIONAL

Arrest of Seed Conspirators
American Seed Trade Association president and CEO Andrew LaVigne released the following statement on the recent announcement by the U.S. attorney general about individuals charged with conspiring to steal seed and trade secrets of several U.S.-based seed manufacturing companies: “ASTA is deeply concerned by the action that has led to the arrest of individuals conspiring to steal and export seed products, seed technology and trade secrets developed by U.S. agriculture companies. ASTA has long supported innovation in the U.S. seed and agriculture industry, and the protection of intellectual property rights for these inventions and their inventors,” says LaVigne. “We are extremely pleased to see that the matter at hand is being taken seriously by the U.S. government. The swift action sends the message that no matter the nationality, either domestic or international, this practice is unacceptable.”

Enlist E3 Soybeans Complete FDA Consultation
Dow AgroSciences LLC and MS Technologies have announced that the United States Food and Drug Administration has completed its consultation for Enlist E3 soybeans. The agency has no further questions based on submitted data that concluded Enlist E3 soybeans are not different in composition, safety, and other relevant parameters from soybean-derived food and feed currently on the market. The Enlist E3 soybean event includes, for the first time, three herbicide-tolerant genes stacked together as part of a single genetic event in the soybean genome. These genes provide tolerance to DAS’ new 2,4-D product, glyphosate, and glufosinate. The innovative product is being developed through a collaboration between MS Technologies and DAS. The USDA is currently assessing the Enlist corn and soybean traits and is conducting an environmental impact statement as part of the review process.

Marrone Bio Submits Nematicide for U.S. EPA Approval
Marrone Bio Innovations Inc., a leading provider of bio-based pest management and plant health products has submitted MBI-302, a biological nematicide, for registration with the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The product utilizes a new patent-pending species of bacteria, Flavobacterium sp. strain H492, discovered in MBI’s discovery screen for suppression of nematodes in agricultural and horticultural crops. It is active against a broad range of plant parasitic nematode species. Field trials conducted in 2013 show that MBI-302, when applied as a seed treatment, reduced soybean cyst nematode numbers and enhanced soybean yields. MBI is developing the product as a seed treatment and as a liquid to be applied via broadcast, in-furrow, shank, banded or chemigation methods.

KeyGene Issued U.S. Patent
KeyGene has been issued U.S. patent 8,614,073 entitled High Throughput Screening of Mutagenized Populations by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The patent protects methods for detecting induced and natural genetic variation in large plant populations that form the cornerstone of KeyGene’s KeyPoint MB programs. The issuance of the U.S. patent follows earlier grants in Australia, Europe, Japan and China, securing broad patent protection for the methods in important areas for crop improvement. KeyPoint MB delivers genetic variation in important crop traits such as yield, (a)biotic stress resistances, and plant reproduction. KeyPoint MB has enabled KeyGene to produce pre-breeding materials for canola, corn, soybean, wheat and a number of vegetable crops within timeframes of months. Application of KeyPoint MB does not fall under GMO legislation, thereby leading to further cost savings and broadening the application space of KeyPoint MB for genetic improvement of a wide variety of crops.

USDA Reviewing Deregulation Request
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement as part of its review to determine whether to deregulate genetically engineered corn and soybean plants that are resistant to several herbicides, including 2,4-D. APHIS is performing an assessment of these GE plants, while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a concurrent review of the related herbicides. APHIS will consider all public comments submitted during the comment period before finalizing the DEIS and plant pest risk assessment and then, based on these, making its final regulatory decision on DAS’ deregulation request. DAS’ GE corn and soybean plants are the first developed to be resistant to 2,4-D and are intended to provide farmers with new plants to help address the problem of weeds that have developed resistance to other herbicides.

INTERNATIONAL

CSTA Welcomes the Introduction of Bill C-18
The Government of Canada has taken a very substantial step forward with the introduction of Bill C-18: the Canadian Agricultural Growth Act. Included in this legislation are amendments to Canada’s Plant Breeders’ Rights Act, to bring it into compliance with the 1991 Convention of the International Union for the Protection of New Plant Varieties. “The Canadian Seed Trade Association supports all of the measures included in this Bill as they continue to modernize regulatory and policy measures affecting agriculture and agri-food, but we particularly welcome the changes to Plant Breeders’ Rights,” said CSTA President Peter Entz. Updated PBR legislation will bring Canada’s intellectual property toolbox in line with those in other countries. CSTA is confident that it will help to stimulate investment in the development of new varieties for Canadian farmers. Just as importantly, when the new Act is implemented, farmers will have access to superior varieties developed beyond our borders.

FSANZ Calls for Submissions for GM Canola
Food Standards Australia New Zealand is accepting submissions on an application to change the food standards code to allow food derived from a genetically modified canola line. FSANZ CEO Steve McCutcheon said the application, from Pioneer Hi-Bred Australia Pty Ltd., seeks approval for food derived from GM canola for tolerance to glyphosate herbicides. “The FSANZ safety assessment found no public health or safety concerns and that food from this canola line is as safe for human consumption as food derived from conventional canola lines,” says McCutcheon. “FSANZ welcomes comments from government agencies, public health professionals, industry and the community.”

Russia to Allow GM Crop Cultivation in 2014 Russia will be allowed to cultivate biotech crops in 2014, according to a government decree. The decision will be implemented July 1, 2014. However, the registration of commercial biotech seeds is expected to take a couple of years. Currently, genetically modified crops can only be grown in experimental fields in the country.

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