Seed World

ASTA Applauds NAS Findings, but Calls for More Emphasis on Plant Breeding

American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) president & CEO Andrew Lavigne is applauding the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report Genetically Engineered Crops: Experience and Prospects, which has found that new technologies in genetic engineering and conventional breeding are blurring the once clear distinctions between these two crop-improvement approaches.
In addition, while recognizing the inherent difficulty of detecting subtle or long-term effects on health or the environment, the study committee found no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between current commercially available genetically engineered (GE) crops and conventionally bred crops, nor did it find conclusive cause-and-effect evidence of environmental problems from the GE crops.
“We’re pleased the NAS has taken the time to perform a thorough, scientific review of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Their findings reinforce what we’ve known all along: GE crops are safe,” LaVigne says.
However, LaVigne is critical of one aspect of the study.
“ASTA is thoroughly reviewing the study. However, we are concerned that the committee did not sufficiently recognize the role that plant breeding’s long history of safety has played in bringing new and improved seed varieties to the marketplace. The evolution of plant breeding is the foundation of America’s safe, nutritious and diverse food supply. New plant breeding methods build upon our strong history of innovation, and will help meet the challenges faced by agriculture in an efficient and sustainable manner.
“It is imperative that both public and private plant breeders and seed companies of all sizes have the opportunity to employ new and evolving breeding methods in the future, without being hindered by overly-burdensome regulations. Continued innovation and the improvement of breeding methods are paramount to the future of agriculture and our quality of life.”