The National Corn Growers Association today submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture on the Proposed Rule regarding Movement of Certain Genetically Engineered Organisms. The submission voiced support for the proposed rule while also offering several suggestions that would strengthen the final rule. The proposed rule marks the first comprehensive revision of USDA’s regulations since they were established in 1987.
Corn farmers have a strong interest in the availability of new technologies to enhance the sustainability, productivity and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. Agriculture biotechnology and next generation breeding techniques allow growers to increase yields while decreasing inputs. Meeting demand, improving processes and minimizing environmental impacts are what make modern corn production a dynamic industry. The proposed rule, in large part, demonstrates an underlying agreement with the basis of NCGA’s stance and strives to create a more efficient regulatory process allowing growers greater access to new products.
NCGA praised USDA’s intention to focus on the plant pest risk of each product, instead of the method used to create it. NCGA also thanked USDA for its proposal to only review plant-trait-mechanisms of action (MOA) requiring oversight once, instead of each time that MOA is used in combination with other traits, as is the requirement now. The proposed rule indicates a path moving forward appropriate for the advancements in plant breeding innovation while ensuring a responsible degree of oversight. To further build upon this foundation in the rule, NCGA requested explicit and formal language be added to ensure this system functions in a timely and reliable manner that adds no additional barriers for previously approved plant-trait mechanisms.
The comments submitted urged the USDA to coordinate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration broadly on the regulation of ag biotechnology to continue streamlining the process and avoiding unnecessary duplications that delayed the tools farmers need to meet today’s needs. NCGA referenced the June 11, 2019 Executive Order, Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products, which asks the three regulatory agencies to identify ways to streamline regulatory processes, when making this request.