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 the …

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.