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Agricultural News


Wheat Growers Worry About Extra Costs Associated with APHIS Regs for Field Testing GE Wheat

Fri, 18 Dec 2015 07:45:52 CST

Wheat Growers Worry About Extra Costs Associated with APHIS Regs for Field Testing GE Wheat Earlier this monrh, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) unveiled new regulations for field-testing of genetically engineered (GE) wheat. The rule will require developers of GE wheat varieties to utilize the more stringent permit application process for field trials rather than the current notification process, beginning January 1, 2016. The National Association of Wheat Growers is concerned that these new regulations will hurt, rather than help, the development of new genetically enhanced wheat varieties.


“We respect USDA’s responsibility to oversee and regulate field trials of plants with genetically modified events but are concerned about the impact this rule change will have on wheat research and production,” says NAWG President Brett Blankenship, a wheat grower from Washtucna, Wash. “As we indicated to USDA during the comment period, we are concerned that the new rules will increase the cost of compliance and potentially impede wheat research programs, especially among small, private companies and public institutions whose resources for wheat research are already stretched.”


“Given the unmatched safety track record of all current GE crops, we view the added regulatory hurdle as unnecessary and potentially burdensome to moving wheat forward, says NAWG Vice President Gordon Stoner, a wheat grower from Outlook, Mont. “There is no commercially available GE wheat in production, no GE wheat in any export channels, and no GE wheat varieties currently awaiting APHIS deregulation, so having USDA-APHIS categorize future GE wheat research field trials for added scrutiny is both puzzling and potentially inhibiting for those seeking much needed public and private research investments.”

According to APHIS, the decision to require growers to plant GE wheat under the more stringent permit process rather than the notification process employed in the past, will provide added protection that GE wheat will not persist in the environment after field trials are concluded, and will remain confined during the trials. APHIS regulations at 7 CFR part 340 specify that in order to be eligible for notification, a field trial must be conducted so the regulated article does not persist in the environment and no offspring are produced that could persist in the environment. In addition, when the field trial ends, no viable material shall remain which is likely to volunteer (grow following the harvest of a crop) in subsequent seasons. Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that minimize the likelihood that the regulated GE wheat will spread or persist in the environment. APHIS already requires permits for many GE organisms, including all trees, perennial grasses and sorghum.

APHIS also contends that this action strengthens the United States wheat export system. The permit reporting requirements help prevent possible unintended mixing with non-GE wheat that can have negative effects on trade, and reassures international trading partners that the U.S. is committed to being the world’s reliable supplier of grain.

To review the new regulations from APHIS, click here.



   

 

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