Washington, D.C. (July 10, 2012) – The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) is expressing its strong support for bipartisan language contained in the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) of 2012. Provisions contained in this legislation are aimed at reforming, streamlining, and consolidating the process for evaluating agricultural biotechnology products under the Coordinated Framework.
“Since the advent of agricultural biotechnology, farmers and growers have come to depend on these tools and innovations so that they can grow crops more sustainably and help make our world a cleaner, safer and healthier place,” says Jim Greenwood, BIO’s President and CEO. “Unfortunately, these innovations are hindered when the regulatory system becomes unpredictable and expensive.”
The FARRM bill language seeks to amend the Plant Protection Act to clarify and improve the process for making field test permit and deregulation determinations, including plant pest risk assessments and environmental analyses. Specifically, the language will:
Reduce unnecessary duplication by the agencies governing agricultural biotechnology (USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency);
Clarify the roles of the regulatory agencies with respect to health, safety and environmental reviews;
Ensure that agency resources are focused on the highest priority tasks; and
Reinforce the overarching principle of sound science in agency decision-making.
“These regulatory improvements for agricultural biotechnology are needed in order to grow a modern 21st Century bioeconomy,” says Greenwood. “According to the National Bioeconomy Blueprint completed by the Obama Administration in April, technological innovation is a significant driver of economic growth, and agriculture – one of the nation’s largest industries – is heavily based on advances in biological research. The Blueprint suggests that federal agencies ‘develop and reform regulations to reduce barriers, increase the speed and predictability of regulatory processes, and reduce costs while protecting human and environmental health.’”
According to the USDA, agricultural biotechnology is embraced by the vast majority of American producers, as roughly 90 percent of corn, soybeans, and cotton grown in the United States are a biotech variety.
“There is a great deal of support by farmers and seed companies for working with Congress and the Administration to improve the current regulatory system,” says Greenwood. “BIO, along with other major agriculture organizations, sent a letter of support to Chairman Frank Lucas and Ranking Member Collin Peterson on July 6. It’s imperative that American producers have the tools necessary to better grow food, feed, fiber, and forestry for consumers in our nation and around the world.”
**The July 6 letter of support sent by the ag community to Chairman Lucas and Ranking Member Peterson is posted on BIO’s website at www.bio.org.