The following is a statement from American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) President & CEO Andy LaVigne in reference to USDA’s new proposed rule (SECURE) to update APHIS’ regulations in a number of areas within its current statutory authority under the Plant Protection Act:
“We’re pleased that USDA is taking much-needed action to update our nation’s policies to reflect the latest scientific advancements in agriculture. As plant scientists continue the rapid pace of discovery in plant genetics and biology, it’s critical that the U.S. lead with policies that reflect, and support, the ongoing evolution of plant breeding.
“Public and private sector plant-scientists around the world are investing in a great deal of research across a wide variety of crops—with exciting potential for our planet, our health and our food. However, in order for these benefits to be fully realized, and widely adopted across breeding programs of all sizes and sectors, developers need clear, science-based policy direction.
“Long-term, sustainable food production requires continued application of innovations, like gene editing, that allow us to develop more resilient crops that can withstand climate change and other rapidly evolving threats to our crops. Beyond important farmer and environmental benefits, newer breeding methods can also allow us to produce healthier, more nutritious varieties of many of the foods we know and love, to meet consumer demand and contribute to global food security.
“We appreciate the recognition USDA makes in the proposal that applications of gene editing can result in plant varieties that are essentially equivalent to varieties developed through more traditional breeding methods, and we look forward to submitting detailed comments in the coming weeks to ensure the final rule provides consistent, workable policies that foster continued innovation in the plant breeding sector.”