Seed World

Corn Growers Support Biotech, Science-based Policies

During the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service public comment meeting held at the University of California, Davis, earlier today (June 13), the National Corn Growers Association brought the voice of farmers into important conversations on U.S. biotechnology regulations. This session, the second of three, offered the opportunity to provide input on the part 340 proposed rule that would modify the science-based federal regulatory framework that regulates genetically engineered organisms use in agriculture.

NCGA past president Leon Corzine and Freedom to Operate Action Team vice chair Brandon Hunnicutt provided insight into the impact such regulations have upon farmers. Drawing upon firsthand experience with the importance of biotech tools, Corzine and Hunnicutt stressed the value farmers place on regulatory efficiency and transparency in a system based solidly in science. They urged officials present to refine the proposal so that USDA can chart a path forward for agricultural biotechnology and products derived from other precision breeding methods that offers regulatory relief and consistency.

Comments noted that farmers have a strong interest in reducing the regulatory burden that stifles innovation and suppresses competition. Due to the ever-increasing challenges, from pests to environmental stressors, Corzine and Hunnicutt expressed the necessity of maintaining access to tools which allow farmers to react quickly and nimbly to the situations seen in their fields.

Testimony also expressed appreciation for the rational approach taken in the draft document to determining regulated products, noting that the product-based approach, instead of a processed-based approach, makes scientific sense. Additionally, according to NCGA, testimony expressed support for the idea of looking at new, innovative technologies, such as gene editing, through an accurate scientific lens versus regulating them in the same manner as transgenics simply because of legacy policies.

This hearing and the testimony provided built upon the work undertaken by the Kansas Corn Growers Association, which represented corn farmers with testimony given by Dale Fjell, KCGA director of research and stewardship, during the first session in Kansas City June 6.

The final session will be held later this week in Riverdale, Maryland.