Statement on USDA Report on Competition & Innovation in Seeds & Other Ag Inputs
The Biotechnology Innovation Organization appreciates that USDA and the Biden Administration are aiming to increase access to modern, innovative seeds. We are reviewing USDA’s report, “More and Better Choices for Farmers: Promoting Fair Competition and Innovation in Seeds and Other Agricultural Inputs,” to identify potential concerns about weakening intellectual property protections for biotech companies.
Strong patents, and an efficient, predictable and objective patent system, are critical to the seeds industry, which depends on patent-driven activities to fuel the development of new inventions and products that benefit the public. The patent system helps drive the development of improved seed and crop protection products that address challenges such as increasing harvests, allowing conservation of arable land and, ultimately, helping to feed the world’s growing population. Notably, almost all the foregoing activities are highly regulated by government agencies such as the FDA, EPA and USDA, which have decided that these developments are socially useful and should be promoted. However, one of the greatest challenges to expanding biotech’s benefits to more producers, as well as growing agriculture’s sustainability and the world’s food security, is the cost and time it takes to bring new traits to market due to the regulatory structure.
Studies have found that over the past decade, the cost of regulation for biotech trait commercialization has grown more than 23 percent while regulatory timeframes grew 75 percent. While scientific advancements have made commercialization more efficient, the resulting cost and time savings have been nearly canceled out by increases in regulatory costs and delays.
Identifying and addressing such barriers to biotech innovation, as called for in President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Innovation for a Sustainable, Safe and Secure American Bioeconomy, is the best way to increase farmers’ and food producers’ access to genetic innovation.