FDA clarifies its approach to biotech animals

The Food and Drug Administration, the lead U.S. regulator of genetically engineered animals, issued two documents to clarify its risk-based oversight of the creatures and their developers. The agency exercises varying levels of scrutiny, ranging from full-scale review of an animal and its risk profile to instances in which developers can take an animal directly to market without consulting the FDA.

Administration looks for ways to expand bioeconomy

Three months after President Biden signed an executive order to accelerate biotechnology innovation, the administration formally asked stakeholders and the public on Monday to identify gaps, ambiguities and inefficiencies in federal regulation of the sector.

USDA biotech rules nearing update, says undersecretary

The USDA soon will propose a modernized regulatory framework for agricultural biotechnology, said Undersecretary Greg Ibach on Monday, the third attempt since 2008 to overhaul rules that were written at the dawn of genetic engineering. Ibach told a farm conference that he could not discuss …

GE salmon cleared for U.S. dinner plates

More than three years after the FDA approved, for the first time, a genetically engineered animal as safe to eat, the government opened the door for AquaBounty Technologies to grow and sell its GE salmon in the United States. A biotech trade group said the fish, which developers say grows twice as fast as as conventional Atlantic salmon on 25-percent less feed, will "contribute to a more sustainable food supply."

Biotech backer Perdue blasts fear-your-food ‘hysteria’

An amorphous “fear-your-food” movement, fed in large part by the ceaseless churning of the internet, could sideline, deter, or even derail the use of such crucial agricultural tools as pesticides and genetically engineered crops and livestock, warned Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Thursday.

USDA will try again on update of biotechnology regulations

For the third time in a decade, the USDA is starting anew on modernizing its regulation of biotech plants. As part of the effort, the agency ditched a proposal that would have covered genome-editing techniques if the products created posed a plant pest or noxious weed risk.

Seeds planted in the Midwest may have Puerto Rican ties

Farms in Puerto Rico are used in the research and development of up to 85 percent of the corn, soybean, and other hybrid seeds grown in the United States. “So the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in September stretches to the croplands of the Midwest and Great Plains,” reports Harvest Public Media.

Big ag importer, China slows its approval of GMO crops for entry

U.S. officials repeatedly have prodded China for a faster and more open system for deciding whether to approve the import of new genetically engineered strains of crop. A U.S. business group says China is headed in the opposite direction by taking longer to approve a smaller number of GMO varieties — only one in 2016, reports Reuters.

Chinese company aims for U.S. sales of GMO corn seed

Origin Agritech Ltd., based in Beijing, has planted biotech corn seeds in a U.S. greenhouse, "an early step toward launching China's first GMO corn products in the United States," said Reuters. The next step, field tests of seed that resist insect and herbicide damage, are scheduled for the summer, according to the company.

EU approves import of keenly watched U.S. GE soy variety

In a decision that removed a roadblock to adoption of a new genetically engineered soybean variety, the European Commission approved import of the Monsanto soybean that is resistant to two types of weedkillers, said Reuters. The soybean went on sale in the United States and Canada this year surrounded by questions about whether there was a market for it.

Biotech company to close research lab as part of USDA penalty

California company Santa Cruz Biotechnology, one of the world's largest suppliers of antibodies for research, agreed to pay a $3.5 million fine, close its research lab and surrender its animal-dealer license in an agreement that resolves USDA complaints that the company mistreated animals, reports the Santa Cruz Tribune.

Challenge to biofuel mandate in the offing

Farm, biofuel and biotech groups petitioned the U.S. appeals court in Washington to hear a challenge to the EPA's relaxation of the renewable fuel mandate for this year, reports DTN.

Biotech corn blamed briefly for Iowa poll results

When a poll put Donald Trump in second place in Iowa, biotech corn was fingered as the culprit on social media before the Trump campaign apologized, says Agri-Pulse. The dustup began when Trump's Twitter feed reposted a tweet that originated with a Nevada businessman, who noted that surgeon Ben Carson was leading Trump in Iowa, and then added: "Too much #Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain?"

Chinese biotech firm to sell pint-size porkers as pets

The Chinese biotech company BGI plans to sell pigs that are genetically modified to grow to about 33 pounds as pets, reports the Los Angeles Times. "The pint-size porkers were created through a process known as gene editing" that prevents cells from receiving a signal to grow.

China buys one-eighth of U.S. soybean crop

Ahead of today’s meeting of Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Obama, Chinese trade groups signed contracts to buy more than 484 million bushels of U.S. soybeans, a deal worth $5.3 billion, said the U.S. Soybean Export Council.

Monsanto sees its future in ‘big data’

Rebuffed in an attempt to buy rival Syngenta, Monsanto executives "are seeking to re-position the company as a business built on data science and services, as well as its traditional chemicals, seeds and genetic traits operations," says Reuters after interviewing chief technology officer Robert Fraley.

USDA has role at US-China trade meeting

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden will take part in the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing this week, says USDA. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew are leaders of the U.S. delegation for meetings Wednesday and Thursday on "the challenges and opportunities that both countries face on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global areas," said a State Department official quoted by AFP.

White House begins update of food and ag biotech regulation

The administration launched an update of its multi-agency system of regulating food and agricultural biotechnology with a goal of writing the new version of its "coordinated framework" by July 2016.

Encyclical discusses benefits, risks of agro biotech

In his encyclical on the environment, Pope Francis devotes a section to genetic modification (GM) of crops and livestock. "The risks involved are not always due to the techniques used, but rather to their improper or excessive application," says the pope.

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