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BIO Applauds USDA Decision to Deregulate Biotech Alfalfa

January 27, 2011
 The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced January 27th that it will fully deregulate a variety of biotech alfalfa (so called “Roundup Ready” or “RR” alfalfa, which is genetically engineered to tolerate the herbicide glyophosate).  

This decision comes after a comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS)conducted by USDA analyzed the potential environmental impact of RR alfalfa, and concluded that it is safe and does not represent a plant pest risk.  

Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), issued the following statement in response to the USDA announcement:  
“Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack’s decision is based on sound science and two decades of regulatory precedent.  Most importantly, this announcement restores the principle of farmer choice and allows growers to move forward with decisions about spring planting. 

“This action also supports President Obama’s pledge to support science-based decision-making and to steer away from policies that create barriers to economic growth.  In order to increase jobs, grow the industry and bring new products to market, the U.S. government’s regulatory review of biotech products needs to be more efficient. 

“The innovations brought about by agricultural biotechnology over the years allow growers to produce more food, feed and fiber on less land, often with significant environmental benefits.  Biotechnology can help crops thrive in drought-prone areas, can improve the nutrition content of foods, can grow alternative energy sources and can improve the lives of farmers and rural communities around the globe.  

“We welcome the Secretary’s commitment to expand U.S. agriculture, to keep pace with the latest scientific developments, and to take into account the needs of all producers and all types of production. We hope this will help pave the way for new technologies in the pipeline.”