NAWG comments on USDA’s proposed rule changes to proposed rule on GE plants
WASHINGTON – Yesterday (Aug. 5), marked the closing of comment period for the U.S Department of Agriculture’s proposed rule changes to regulations in 7 CFR part 340, “Introductions of Organisms and Products Altered or Produced Through Genetic Engineering Which are Plant Pests or Which There is Reason to Believe are Plant Pests.” NAWG submitted comments to the proposed rule (Docket No. APHIS–2018–0034), and Lavon, Texas, wheat farmer and NAWG President Ben Scholz made the following statement:
“NAWG believes USDA APHIS is correct in its work to update and revise the current regulations and commends their effort to streamline the process. APHIS can point to its learnings from more than 20 years of documented risks to plant health within its authority related to plant pests and noxious weeds when making these rule changes.
“Modern biotechnology (transgenesis and gene editing) helps achieve an increase in food production without the need for more land area for agriculture. NAWG members believe science-based decisions should be used to develop regulatory framework, and that regulations should not burden research investment with unnecessary costs or delays.
“In its comments, NAWG noted its highest priority concern is that any rule change contemplated by the USDA APHIS needs to consider its impact on importing countries of U.S. produced grain. NAWG encourages USDA APHIS to develop and execute an international engagement strategy that defines USDA’s rationale on pre-market regulatory approaches. All foreign customers expect the continued oversight by USDA to ensure consistent food safety, which is fundamental to their confidence in purchases of U.S. wheat.
“Further, NAWG encourages USDA APHIS to be vocal about the safety of GE technology, aiming their messaging at every opportunity to earn the trust of every U.S. consumer. Even if the technology is innovative and improves productivity, farmers will not purchase it if the marketplace will not accept it. NAWG appreciated the opportunity to provide comments on this issue of significant importance to the wheat industry.”