While incoming Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee, Oklahoma’s Frank Lucas, agreed with Vilsack’s tenor on producers being able to choose their individual cropping system, Lucas stated that the Plant Protection Act, which grants USDA authority to regulate biotech crops, is a pure science statute and that decisions should remain based on sound science. Moreover, Lucas pressed USDA on their recent consideration of the possible coexistence of herbicide-tolerant biotech alfalfa co-existing with non-biotech fields is “a political objective and is outside the scope of (USDA’s) legal authority.”
Collin Peterson (D-MN) the top democrat on the House Agriculture Committee made note that, “the recently completed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)* on alfalfa is one step in a drawn out process that has taken decisions about alfalfa production largely out of the hands of the agriculture community and moved them into the courtroom, litigated by lawyers and decided by judges who have no connection to agriculture.” Peterson also espoused his concerns about the “endless litigation” that has become “a fact of life under the current biotech approval process. And if the only answer to the alfalfa question is one that leads us right back into the courtroom, where USDA’s track record in recent years is very poor, then I’m not sure how that benefits biotechnology in the long run.”
Biotechnology holds promise for addressing many future challenges in global food and fiber production. However, today’s congressional hearing showcased the need for regulatory and judiciary reforms that hinder progress in this critical sector of U.S. agriculture. USDA, and likely the other two agencies that have regulatory authority over biotechnology, namely the Food & Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, are at a crossroads. The length of time in the petition process is too lengthy, the number of submissions has increased, resources are limited, inhibited use of the latest technology and market responsiveness is hindered. Moreover, certain courts are being swayed by radical groups that will go to any extent to derail progress in biotechnology.
Without question the biotechnology regulatory process needs to be more timely, scientific-based, effective and reliable. The areas that give rise to increased litigation exposure also need to be addressed.
Cansler Consulting has proven and experienced representatives that maintain intimate knowledge of the biotechnology regulatory process and can help your biotechnology company secure needed regulatory approval of your product(s).
*Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is a document which describes how a proposed action may or may not impact the environment and may list alternative actions that may be chosen in lieu of the action described in the EIS; it is required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969.
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