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USDA Announces Final Biotechnology Regulation Update

The USDA has announced the final update to its regulations surrounding biotechnology under the Plant Protection Act.

Entitled the Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient (SECURE) rule, these regulations are designed to create a regulatory framework that is transparent, consistent, science-based, and risk-proportionate. It is also in place to help give American farmers access to tools that would help increase productivity, and improve sustainability, nutritional value, and crop quality.

Formerly, regulations focused on whether a plant pest was used in the development of a plant using genetic engineering, and required a lengthy deregulation process for plants not posing increased pest risk. Now, with 30 years of experience, the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) regulations have been revised to focus on the properties of each plant, rather than its method of development. A new methodology for determining risk called a regulatory status review will regulate only those plants that plausibly pose an increased plant pest risk. In developing these revisions, the USDA undertook an extensive outreach program, meeting with the public, members of academia, state departments of agriculture, grower organizations, and NGOs. The new rules will go into effect on predetermined days over the coming 18 months.

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