White House Issues Executive Order to Streamline Regulatory Review Process for Genetically Modified Farm Products
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Agricultural biotech received a boost late Tuesday as President Donald Trump signed an executive order that streamlines the federal review process for products like genetically modified seeds and livestock.
The order noted the importance of biotechnology on the nation’s food supply and agricultural needs and supports a long-time goal of Trump’s support of loosening restrictions on the use of genetically-modified crops and animal products. The order points to the industry as a means of meeting food production needs, improving crop characteristics, increasing the nutritional value of crops and enhancing food safety. In order to meet those needs, the executive order noted that a streamlined review system that fosters “public confidence in biotechnology” while avoiding “undue regulatory burdens” is critical.
Ahead of the signing of the executive order, CNBC noted that the action has been seen as a way to “bolster the bottom line” of farmers who have been caught up in the trade war with China. Officials have called for a need to standardize agricultural approvals to support domestically developed goods that are typically sold overseas. CNBC said that soybean farmers are impacted by regulations that can hinder them from selling genetically modified products overseas in critical markets like China and Brazil.
The executive order lays out a number of steps to achieve these goals, including basing regulatory decisions on scientific evidence while considering the law and economic factors. The order also calls for federal regulators making decisions based on “risks associated with the product and its intended end use” and urging trade partners to “adopt science- and risk-based regulatory approaches.”
The presidential order calls for a number of federal departments, such as the Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, to “identify relevant regulations and guidance documents within their respective jurisdictions that can be streamlined to ensure that products of agricultural biotechnology are regulated in accordance with the policy set forth” by the order.
The Associated Press reported that current U.S. regulations involving genetically engineered plants and animals vary depending on the “exact methods used to produce them.” The government has been working to clarify new policies as the technologies continue to evolve. Last year the FDA announced a new Plant and Animal Biotechnology Innovation Action Plan that was aimed at oversight of animal biotechnology products. The plans included genetically altered animals and the food and drug products derived from them.
The executive order has, so far, been met with praise from industry representatives. Jim Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of BIO (Biotechnology Innovation Organization) applauded the move and called it an “important step forward”
“America is on the threshold of entering a new era of sustainable agriculture and food production, and it’s important we get this right for farmers, consumers, U.S. companies and the world as a whole. With prudent regulations, we can foster American innovation and bring to market biology-driven solutions that are improving nutrition, reducing food waste, increasing crop yield, combating debilitating crop diseases and advancing environmentally friendly farming practices,” Greenwood said in a statement.
The executive order comes days after the United States told the World Trade Organization it was planning to revise regulations on importing GMOs (genetically modified organisms), Reuters reported.