U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced clarifications this week that USDA will continue its policy of not regulating plants produced through genome editing and other innovative techniques used to introduce traits to protect crops against pest and disease. The announcement advances a science-based and practical approach to protecting plant health while allowing for technological advancements. Under its current biotechnology regulations which oversee the safety of products derived from new technologies, USDA does not and will not regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. This includes crops developed using genome editing.
“With this approach, USDA seeks to allow innovation when there is no risk present. At the same time, I want to be clear to consumers that we will not be stepping away from our regulatory responsibilities. While these crops do not require regulatory oversight, we do have an important role to play in protecting plant health by evaluating products developed using modern biotechnology. This is a role USDA has played for more than 30 years, and one I will continue to take very seriously, as we work to modernize our technology-focused regulations,” Perdue said.