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Paying the Price for Poorly Harmonized Regulations Around GM Crops

February 20, 2015
At the beginning of December 2014, the Genetic Literacy Project launched a 6-part series to better educate the public about the misinformation around GMOs.   Its GMO: Beyond the Science series provides briefs that present another dimension to the GMO debate. The goal of the series is to stimulate a public discussion on genetic modification based on science, not fear.

The fourth brief as part of the series takes a look at how  regulations are hampering the potential for biotechnology to contribute to global food security   Economic Consequences of Regulations of GM Crops by Peter W.B. Phillips discusses global regulations that have incentivized biotech companies to bypass smaller markets, placing crop and nutritional benefits and innovations out of reach of consumers and farmers with the greatest need. This brief encourages regulatory programs that ensure timely review and public policy approaches that provide stability in the process to incentivize innovative companies of all sizes to pursue ongoing advances in biotechnology innovation and research.

Below is a short summary highlighting top points of Phillips' Economic Consequences of Regulations of GM Crops:

Increased regulatory costs and an expanding approval process stifles innovation. Today’s regulatory approval process for GM technology is almost two-years longer than it was prior to 2002.  Discovery, development and authorization of a new biotech derived crop trait is estimated to cost $136 million.  Regulatory costs and the lengthy approval process are barriers to entry for small biotech firms with new research projects or ideas for innovation...

Research has narrowed to previously approved and commercialized crops, meaning consumers and farmers do not realize the benefits of innovation and technology advances that might improve the nutritional attributes or growing quality of other key crops or vegetables.  Lower food costs, higher farmer incomes and new research and innovation could be realized with a more streamlined and timely approval process...

Regulatory systems are an integral part of the system that delivers new technologies to the market. Risings costs, lengthening review periods and pervasive uncertainty about which technologies will be acceptable in different markets have dampened revenues and investments and lowered the potential for plant biotechnology to contribute to global food security. Increased regulatory costs and an expanding approval process stifle innovation—the innovation that is needed to secure an adequate supply and, appropriate quality of food at affordable prices...

Peter W.B. Phillips is a Distinguished Professor in the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School ofPublic Policy at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

BIO encourages you to read his brief in its entirety.  Also, check out the The Center for Food Integrity's site: to learn more about the organization who helped put this series together.