Placeholder Banner

Let's Take a Look Back at 2015: Agriculture

December 16, 2015
2015 was a year of challenges and accomplishments for the Agriculture Industry. Trade, GMO labeling and the COOL Act are just naming a few items that were up for discussion and debate.

Below are 10 noteworthy Ag events that happened in 2015, making it a memorable year for the industry.

  1. GE Salmon – After more than two decades of regulatory review, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finally approved the genetically engineered (GE) AquAdvantage® Salmon for commercial marketing.The AquAdvantage® salmon contains a growth hormone gene from the Chinook salmon and a genetic switch from the ocean pout that keeps the transplanted gene continuously active, whereas the salmon’s own growth hormone gene is active only parts of the year. This means the fish can grow to market weight in 18 to 20 months, compared with 28 to 36 months for conventionally farmed salmon. The AquAdvantage® Salmon is the first GE animal that has been approved for human consumption, opening a path for future innovation in animal biotechnology. BIO’s press release on FDA Approval of GE Salmon can be found here.

  2. GMO Labeling – In July, the House of Representatives passed Congressman Mike Pompeo’s Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act which blocks states from maintaining their own GMO labeling requirements. While the bill was largely supported by Republicans, 45 Democrats voted in favor to pass it. A version of the bill is currently being debated in the Senate. Read more about the bill here:

  3. China’s Biotech Delays – In preparation of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States in mid-September, lawmakers, farm groups and the biotechnology industry came together and urged President Obama to push China to accelerate import approvals for genetically engineered commodities. At the September 28th meeting, Xi agreed to improve an agricultural biotechnology approval process and listed agriculture as one area where the countries would “expand mutually beneficial cooperation.”

  4. SmartLabel – In November, the Grocery Manufacturers Association introduced the SmartLabel to help meet the public’s desire for more information about food and other products. Hershey is the first brand to adopt it.Read BIO’s blog on SmartLabel here and learn how a QR code can lead to an answer for all of your questions about the foods you buy.

  5. Avian Influenza Outbreak - Two hundred and thirty two commercial operations were impacted and affected by the 2015 Avian Influenza outbreak. Nearly fifty million turkeys and chickens were basically depopulated. This was a significant hit to the industry and lead to well over eight hundred million dollars of assistance and help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Read more here:

  6. 2015 World Food Prize Laureate -Sir Fazle Hasan Abed of Bangladesh, the internationally renowned founder and chairperson of BRAC, was honored as the 2015 World Food Prize Laureate for his unparalleled achievement in building a unique, integrated development organization that many have hailed as the most effective anti-poverty organization in the world… Sir Fazle pioneered a new approach to development that has effectively and sustainably addressed the interconnectedness between hunger and poverty. In this regard, he has broken new ground by melding scalable development models, scientific innovation, and local participation to confront the complex causes of poverty, hunger, and powerlessness among the poor.

  7. 2014 Farm Bill – The Agricultural Act of 2014 provided authorization for services and programs that impact every American and millions of people around the world. The new Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past five years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for the taxpayer.2015 was a big year to get the 2014 Farm Bill properly implemented. Secretary Vilsack commented that “we saw a very, think, efficient and timely implementation across the board, and well we did because of the disaster assistance that was provided to livestock producers over the course of the last couple of years. Very, very important.” Visit here to see the progress of the implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill.

  8. Country-of-Origin Labeling Laws (COOL) – On December 07, the World Trade Organization ruled that Canada and Mexico have the right to levy retaliatory taxes worth over $1 billion in total on U.S. goods due to what it deemed to be unfair product labeling.The United States’ country-of-origin labeling rules require meat products sold in the country to disclose where the livestock had been born, raised, and slaughtered. Read more here:

  9. Pope Francis Talks Agriculture - On June 18, 2015, Pope Francis released on the Vatican website an encyclical letter that appeals to the world’s leaders to take steps to heal the environmental damage caused by human activity and alleviate the likely impacts of climate change. While Pope Francis echoed the mainstream scientific approach to agricultural biotechnology and suggested that each discovery be considered on a case-by-case basis and that the end result, not the process itself, should be taken into account. Read BIO’s blog on his comments here: Pope Francis’ Encyclical Includes Ambivalent Remarks on Ag Biotech

  10. Clean Water Act – In December, The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether a landowner can challenge the government’s determination that a property contains protected wetlands, which property-rights advocates say is tantamount to a seizure. The court’s decision to hear U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co. follows the Obama administration’s enactment of a new Clean Water Rule that puts millions of additional acres within the definition of “Waters of the U.S.” covered by the Clean Water Act. Read Forbes coverage of the event here. In addition, the Government Accountability Office recently released a legal opinion concludes that the EPA violated restrictions on using appropriations for grassroots lobbying when it employed social media to promote the proposed Clean Water Rule. Read more here:

2015 was a big year for agriculture. BIO is excited to see what is in store for 2016!