USDA updates plant biotechnology regulations

The mission of Farm Share is to make sure no Floridian goes hungry and no food goes to waste. (Pixabay)
By  | 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WIBW)-- Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, announced a final rule updating the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s biotechnology regulations under the Plant Protection Act.

The Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible and Efficient rule, also known as SECURE, will bring USDA’s plant biotechnology regulations into the 21st century by making processes to facilitate the development and availability of technology through a regulatory system.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, USDA is implementing the first significant update to our plant biotechnology regulations in more than three decades,” says Secretary Purdue. “USDA’s SECURE rule will streamline and modernize our regulatory system, facilitate science-based innovations, and provide our farmers with the tools they need to produce the world’s safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply, which will help us continue to ‘Do Right and Feed Everyone’ – safely.”

The new rule will help provide America’s farmers access to these critical tools to help increase agricultural productivity and sustainability, improve the nutritional value and quality of crops, combat pests and diseases, and enhance food safety.

“EPA applauds USDA’s efforts to finalize the SECURE rule that will support our nation’s farmers,” says Andrew Wheeler, US EPA Administrator. “EPA is continuing our own efforts to safely reduce unnecessary regulations and further break down barriers to support advancements in biotechnology. We plan to issue our proposed rule early this summer.”

The previous regulations focused on whether a pest was used in the development of a plant using genetic engineering and required a long deregulation process for plants that did not pose an increased pest risk. Since the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service, 30 years ago, scientists know that using a plant pest in the development of a plant does not necessarily cause the plant to pose a risk to plant health.

The final rule puts a more efficient process to identify plants that would be subject to regulation, focusing on the properties of the plant rather than the method of its production into place.

“Alongside the USDA as they work to implement the SECURE rule, the FDA is committed to encouraging innovation in agricultural biotechnology while utilizing scientific risk-based approaches in our regulatory approach,” says Stephen Hahn, M.D., FDA Commissioner. “FDA is dedicated to making sure that American consumers have confidence in the safety of the food they feed their families.”

The updated process aligns with the President’s Executive Order for Modernizing Biotechnology and the Coordinated Framework for Biotechnology. This will ensure the regulations keep pace with the latest science and technological advancements, reduce regulatory burdens and ensure that Agency resources are better focused on the prevention of plant pest risk.