The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced it was withdrawing its proposed rule to revise and update the agency’s biotechnology regulations for the purpose of soliciting additional stakeholder input. The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) is encouraged that USDA is taking steps to consider different policy options and will continue to engage on the important topic of plant breeding innovation, both domestically and globally.
“It’s important that the administration moves forward without delay in soliciting stakeholder feedback on policy around plant breeding innovation while actively engaging in the on-going dialogue at the global level,” says ASTA President & CEO Andrew W. LaVigne. “Public and private sector plant-scientists around the world are investing in a great deal of research using newer methods like gene editing across a wide variety of crops—with exciting potential for farmers, consumers and the environment. However, in order for these benefits to be fully realized, and widely adopted across breeding programs of all sizes and sectors, developers need clear, science-based, policy direction.”
ASTA supported some key aspects of the proposed rule—most importantly, its recognition that some applications of gene editing result in plant varieties that are essentially equivalent to varieties developed through more traditional breeding methods, and should be treated as such from a policy perspective.
“We look forward to working with USDA to ensure consistent, science-based policies that foster continued innovation and promote the trade of safe and quality seed and other agricultural products around world,” says LaVigne.