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The State Of Biotech Regulations In 2018 — An Ag Policy Expert’s Perspective

March 2, 2018
At GMO Answers, we focus primarily on public consumer education and awareness campaigns. Our materials are designed to reach a general audience, not the inside the Beltway crowd. As such, we don't really get into bills, laws, policies and regulations that govern the use of GMOs that much.  We generally leave that to our friends over at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).  That being said, if you want to know about GMOs, it is important to know how and why GMOs are regulated.

One of today’s most common misconceptions about GMOs and biotechnology is that they are not regulated, when in fact, GMOs are one of the most regulated products in agriculture history. GMO Answers reached out to law professor and GMO Answers volunteer expert Drew L. Kershen for his perspective on the current U.S. regulatory review structure for agriculture biotechnology and what we may expect in the future. He writes, in a GMO Answers Medium blog post:
A Shared Responsibility

Three federal agencies share responsibility for regulating agricultural biotechnology:

  • The United States Department of Agriculture Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) assesses plants bred through biotechnology to assure that the plants are not a plant pest or a noxious weed in farmers’ fields.

  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses its statutory power over pesticides to regulate agricultural biotechnology when the trait engineered into the plant or animal acts like a pesticide — e.g. plants that control damaging insects by being toxic to the pest.

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses its delegated authority concerning food to assure that food (either whole or ingredients) from genetically engineered plants or animals is safe and substantially equivalent to foods already on the market.

In addition, the FDA uses its power over drugs to regulate biotech animals as if those animals were new veterinary drugs. But, in this blog post, I focus on regulatory review for food safety as consumers are most concerned about regulatory agencies assuring food safety.

What will the regulation of GMO products look like in the future? That remains to be seen, but the one thing that everyone wants is that there's a clear plan to make sure that safe, affordable, and healthy food reaches consumers all around the world. To read the Professor Kershen's entire post, and all our blog posts, please visit the GMO Answers Medium page.