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Agricultural News

EPA Supports Technology to Benefit America's Farmers, Improve Sustainability

Tue, 01 Sep 2020 15:38:07 CDT

EPA Supports Technology to Benefit America’s Farmers, Improve Sustainability In another effort to remove barriers to innovation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule that will streamline the regulation of certain plant-incorporated protectants (PIPs) that pose no risks of concern to humans or the environment. This action which will be available for public comment for 60 days delivers on a key directive under President Trump's Executive Order on Modernizing the Regulatory Framework for Agricultural Biotechnology Products.

"This new rule will provide critical new tools for America's farmers as they work to increase agricultural productivity, improve the nutritional value and quality of crops, fight pests and diseases, and boost food safety," said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. "Embracing this technology through a transparent, consistent and science-based process is long overdue, and will secure benefits to American agriculture well into the future."

Specifically, EPA is proposing a exemptions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) for certain PIPs created through biotechnology. The Agency has preliminarily determined that these substances meeting the exemption criteria have no risks of concern to humans or the environment.

EPA's proposed exemptions for PIPs created through biotechnology seek to facilitate the development of new tools for American farmers to protect their crops and control agricultural pests. By reducing antiquated regulations that restrict access to the market for biotechnology products, science-based innovations to agriculture will become far more accessible to American farmers. These improvements will have the potential to increase America's food supply.

PIPs are pesticidal substances produced by plants and the genetic material necessary for the plant to produce the pesticidal substance. The existing regulatory exemption for PIPs is limited to those created through conventional breeding. The proposed exemption would allow for PIPs created through biotechnology to also be exempt from existing regulations if they 1) pose no greater risk than PIPs that meet EPA safety requirements, and 2) could have been created through conventional breeding.

Under the proposed exemption, EPA would require developers of PIPs to submit either a self-determination letter or a request for EPA confirmation that their PIP meets the criteria for exemption; a developer could also submit both.
To learn more about the proposed exemption and to submit comments visit: https://www.epa.gov/regulation-biotechnology-under-tsca-and-fifra/pesticides-exemptions-certain-plant-incorporated

Here's what stakeholders and elected officials are saying:

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: "Agricultural biotechnology has been and will continue to be an essential tool in helping America's farmers and ranchers feed, fuel, and clothe the world. From producers to consumers, all Americans deserve a government that delivers science-based, common-sense regulations that foster innovation, conserve resources, and protect public health especially when it comes to the food supply. President Trump is committed to harmonizing our regulatory framework for agricultural biotechnology in order to equip our farmers with the tools they need to produce the world's safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply."

House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Mike Conaway (TX-11): "I commend President Trump for delivering another major victory for American agriculture. This administration has made regulatory reform and modernization a high priority, and EPA's proposal will provide farmers, ranchers, consumers, and the research community with the certainty and predictability they need to continue innovating."

Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Subcommittee Ranking Member Neal Dunn (FL-02): "EPA's action provides a regulatory pathway for increased innovation in plant breeding, including tools that will give citrus growers the ability to combat citrus greening, which has devastated the industries in Florida, Texas, and California. I appreciate Administrator Wheeler and Secretary Perdue for working together on this pro-innovation proposal."

American Soybean Association President and soybean grower from Worthington, Minnesota, Bill Gordon: "American Soybean Association commends EPA for taking this critical step needed to enable innovation in agriculture. Innovations in plant breeding, like gene editing, hold immense promise to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability, and strengthen our rural economy. Clarifying vision from the Environmental Protection Agency on its regulatory approach to these innovations will be essential in providing researchers, developers, growers, and other stakeholders with a greater expectation on what the market pathway will look like for these much-needed tools. ASA welcomes the publication of this proposed rule and looks forward to reviewing it and working with EPA in the days to come to achieve the best possible outcomes to support agricultural innovation."

American Seed Trade Association President & CEO Andy LaVigne: "The American Seed Trade Association appreciates the work of EPA in taking this important step to provide clarity and work towards cross-agency alignment around plant breeding innovation policies, pursuant to President Trump's 2019 Executive Order. The association is currently reviewing the details of the proposed rule. Over the history of plant breeding, breeders have reliably integrated evolving techniques with long-established practices to safely and effectively meet the changing needs of farmers, consumers, and the environment. Today, we face unprecedented challenges that threaten the future of our planet and food supply; and it's more critical than ever that U.S. farmers have access to the latest innovations, like gene editing, to keep pace with the challenges of today and the future. We look forward to providing comments on the proposal, and we remain committed to continuing to work closely with the administration, industry and the broader public and private plant breeding community to ensure commercial viability and widespread access by producers to the latest plant breeding tools, both here and around the globe."

American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall: "EPA's proposed rule encouraging innovation in agriculture builds upon many of the actions of this administration that sets a regulatory framework for a bright future for agriculture. Building upon the President's Executive Order on Biotechnology last year and USDA's final SECURE rule earlier this year, we welcome the opportunity to provide input to EPA regarding its proposed PIP rule. Having the best tools and technologies will be critical for farmers to meet the challenges ahead for agriculture."

Biotechnology Innovation Organization Senior Director of Science and Regulatory Affairs for Food and Agriculture Clint Nesbitt: "BIO strongly believes these modernized regulatory approaches must be science-based and provide meaningful transparency to consumers so we can establish a system that drives innovation over the long term."

National Cotton Council of America: "The NCC applauds this and other measures taken by the Trump Administration to reduce the regulatory burden for American agriculture."

American Sugar Alliance: "The American Sugar Alliance supports a regulatory system that fosters innovation in plant breeding. As the most sustainable sugar industry in the world, we recognize the incredible potential that improved genetics have to confront emerging challenges that our producers will face. We are encouraged by EPA taking this important step to modernize their Plant Incorporated Protectant (PIP) rule to account for the many advancements in plant breeding methods. We look forward to engaging with our membership and providing careful feedback on the proposed rule to help ensure that the United States can maintain its position as the global leader in developing biotechnology and to ensure that our industry can continue to be the most sustainable in the world



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