The Future of Biotech Plant Regulations
The regulatory system was built to be flexible. As any industry continues to progress, and newer and more beneficial products become available, it is inevitable that regulations and government oversight concurrently advance. In January 2004, USDA announced its intentions to update and strengthen biotechnology regulations for biotech crops. The technology advancement and increase in knowledge about biotechnology-derived products under development suggest that this is an appropriate time to review existing regulations governing the production of agricultural biotechnology products. The first step in the regulatory update is to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on biotechnology regulations. In July 2007, USDA published a draft EIS with a 60-day comment period. After review of the comments, USDA's next step will be to publish proposed changes to its APHIS Part 340 regulations for public comment, before finalizing any new regulations.
With current science- and risk-based regulations in place, the biotechnology industry looks forward to providing farmers and consumers with new and enhanced agricultural biotechnology products such as nutrient-enhanced and healthful grains and oils, plant varieties that are tolerant to extreme environmental stresses and new industrial uses from biotech plant varieties, including increased yields to promote biofuel production. Agricultural biotechnology has the potential to support an eco-efficient world of the future ? a world where more food can be produced while at the same time reducing agriculture's environmental footprint.