Biotechnology Background

Background

Defending an efficient, science-based regulatory process – Since 1986, the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology has successfully governed how the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) work together to regulate new biotech products. In recent years, however, the process has become unpredictable and the timeline for reviewing new products has increased dramatically due to overlapping regulatory responsibilities, a lack of inter-agency coordination, the looming threat of activist lawsuits that drain agency resources and efforts to introduce socioeconomic criteria into regulatory decisions.

Improving coexistence and protecting property rights – Coexistence refers to the concurrent use of diverse cropping methods, including organic, conventional and modern biotechnology. Coexistence is most effective when it facilitates farmers’ ability to choose a particular cropping method, along with the associated responsibility and production practices needed to maintain crop integrity, without conflicting with property rights of other farmers. Efforts to educate farmers about effective stewardship and good neighborly communication can help to strengthen coexistence. However, some groups have advocated for establishing heavy-handed coexistence policies that would impose costly requirements for farmers of biotech crops, such as mandatory stewardship practices and the creation of indemnity funds to compensate non-biotech farmers for the unintended presence of biotech material. These policy proposals contradict the traditional principles of value-added and identity-preserved agriculture, and go beyond what is justified by science to regulate the use of biotechnology and influence markets based on commercial concerns.

Opposing mandatory labeling – FDA’s longstanding policy on biotech food labeling states: “FDA has no basis for concluding that bioengineered foods differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way, or that, as a class, foods developed by the new techniques present any or greater safety concern than foods developed by traditional plant breeding.” The world’s top credible scientific authorities—including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Health Organization, the National Research Council of the National Academies of Sciences, the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association—have all concluded that foods with biotech-derived ingredients pose no more risk than any other food. Still, there are significant efforts to require labeling of foods with biotech ingredients, regardless of scientific evidence. Each year, anti-biotechnology groups attempt to pass mandatory labeling  laws in several states through statute or referendum. Mandatory labels would mislead consumers about the safety of biotechnology, erode the credibility of FDA and discourage consumer acceptance of new, beneficial technologies. Farm Bureau has opposed mandatory labeling efforts at the federal and state levels. Promoting harmonization of international standards – Improving global market access and reducing trade disruptions can have enormous economic benefits for U.S. agricultural exports. Reducing asynchrony in the scientific standards, timeline and data requirements that different countries use to regulate products can improve market access.

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