NGFA: Commodity groups need foreign approvals before planting
December 22, 2016
Commodity groups should seek foreign government approvals before they begin planting controversial seeds, the president of the National Grain and Feed Association said last week at the group's annual Country Elevator Conference and Trade Show in Chicago.
In addition, the NGFA chairman highlighted the challenges for the industry when it comes to the commercialization of agricultural biotechnology traits. While supportive of the technology and the benefits and efficiencies it brings to modern production agriculture, NGFA continues to urge technology owners to obtain foreign market approvals before new traits are planted on a commercial scale so as to avoid trade disruptions, the group said in a news release.
"Frankly, one of our hurdles has been to convince farm and commodity groups that appear willing to accept the short-term risk of prematurely planting biotech traits before they are approved in world markets," NGFA Chairman John Heck, senior vice president of The Scoular Co., said in a speech, according to the news release.
"We need to do a better job of informing those growers of that risk," Heck added.
Regarding new gene-editing technologies that are making their way into the market, Heck said obtaining some international regulatory coherence with other countries on how and whether these traits will be regulated is imperative.
"We simply can't allow the same kind of disparate regulatory treatment to occur with these new gene-editing techniques, as happened with transgenics," he said. "The market disruption could be catastrophic."
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Heck also noted that "NGFA is working to provide extensive input to President-elect Donald Trump on legislative and regulatory issues, particularly regulatory excesses that should be rolled back during the early months of the new administration," the group said.
Trade will also be a high priority for NGFA with the incoming administration, according to the release.
"One of our early priorities also is to begin a constructive dialogue with the Trump team on ways to improve and modernize trade agreements — starting with the North American Free Trade Agreement — in a way that reinforces the importance of two-way trade and preserves the many positive aspects of trade agreements for ag," Heck said. ❖