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US: Regulatory barriers to developing innovative agricultural biotechnology

During a two-day event in Washington, D.C., on March 22-23, the Council for Agriculture Science and Technology released a CAST Issue Paper titled Regulatory Barriers to the Development of Innovative Agricultural Biotechnology by Small Businesses and Universities. The celebration of National Ag Week (March 17-24) in D.C., complemented the release of the paper perfectly.

To rollout this important research paper, Dr. Alan McHughen, CE Biotechnology Specialist and Geneticist from the University of California-Riverside, presented highlights on March 22 at an event, co-hosted by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). On Friday, March 23 the National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research (NC-FAR) hosted a morning senate presentation and House of Representatives lunch seminar.

Thursday's program at APLU was well attended and promoted great questions and discussion following the presentation. Dr. Alan McHughen concluded by stating, "Until the regulations change, not only scientists, but farmers, consumers, and the environment will continue to be denied potential benefits." Another statement included:

"It is important to remember that these innovations are tools. Genetic engineering is a tool. Instead of worrying about the tool, let's worry about what we can do with that tool to reach the final product we are envisioning. Let's regulate the product, not the process. Then we can evaluate the benefits and hazards."

The authors of the CAST issue paper point out that "genetically engineered crops and foods are demonstrably safer than the products they will displace, so the current regulatory barriers perpetuate the continued use of more hazardous, less nutritious, more expensive, and more environmentally damaging crops and foods that face no regulatory scrutiny whatsoever."

Conversations on the world wide web and various social media platforms regarding the release of this paper are also beginning to flourish. CAST Communications and Social Media Specialist Kylie Peterson shares, "The current impact of CAST's recent issue paper regarding Regulatory Barriers to the Development of Innovative Agricultural Biotechnology by Small Businesses and Universities has experienced active feedback thus far. Various news stations, organizations, and media outlets have helped to disperse CAST's publication link. We look forward to seeing even more growth as the topic continues to stir interest and possible biotech regulation changes."

The Hawaii Crop Improvement Association shared their excitement for the release of the issue paper on Facebook stating, "U.S. laws and regulations surrounding agricultural biotechnology are extensive, unreasonably expensive, and in need of an update. Many of them were written in the 1980s before the techniques were completely understood. As a result, crop improvement innovations that could help both farmers and consumers have stayed stuck on shelves."

For more information:
CAST: Council for Agricultural Science and Technology
4420 West Lincoln Way, Ames, IA 50014-3447
T: 515-292-2125
F: 515-292-4512

Publication date: 3/29/2018



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