The agricultural biotechnology industry is committed to the safe and responsible use of its technology. A critical component of this is the consistent and effective compliance with all regulatory requirements in research, development and commercialization of food and agricultural products. Since 1987, USDA has overseen more than 20,000 individual field trials on many different biotech plants, with no confirmed instance of actual harm to human or animal health and safety or to the environment caused by any biotechnology-derived plant product placed on the market.
But not even the best guidelines are effective unless they are clearly understood and put into practice. Few industries have worked as diligently as the agricultural biotechnology industry to develop rigorous stewardship guidelines.
In 2004, BIO and AGBIOS, a Canadian company, developed a workshop on compliance training for those conducting field trials in the United States. This program provides an understanding of U.S. regulatory requirements for field trials of biotech cotton, corn, and soybeans intended for fiber, feed, and food use.
In 2005, BIO began holding workshops for researchers and staff at agricultural research and teaching universities, institutions, and governmental agencies conducting field trials in the United States; farmers conducting trials for technology providers; and company personnel responsible for field trials. The manual and workshops, which provide Continuing Education Credits from the Agronomy Society of America, Entomological Society of America, and the National Association of Independent Crop Consultants, cover U.S. regulations; notification and permitting procedures; compliance and enforcement; transport and storage; trial site management; harvest disposition; post-harvest management; audit and verification; and experimental use permits for plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs).
Each half-day workshop is designed to give participants the information they need to comply with U.S. regulatory requirements and industry's stewardship guidelines for the research, development and commercialization of food and agricultural products. This practical instruction, supported by a detailed manual, teaches individuals who conduct field trials about compliance issues, as well as how to set up systems to monitor their own compliance. The curriculum draws upon years of real-world experience from across agricultural biotechnology sectors, including lessons from academics, farmer-cooperators and commercial entities.
Workers in agricultural biotechnology have repeatedly demonstrated they are eager to go above and beyond what is required to be responsible stewards of this emerging technology.