biotechnology

Nominee would build ‘civil rights culture’ at USDA

Declaring "there is no place at USDA for discrimination," University of Michigan law professor Margo Schlanger told senators on Wednesday that she would build "a civil rights culture" at the USDA if confirmed as assistant secretary for civil rights. At the same confirmation hearing, Chavonda Jacobs-Young said she would be an advocate for advanced technology, such as gene editing, if confirmed as undersecretary for research.

Prudent regulation, national registry sought for gene-edited products

With gene-edited products nearing the marketplace, six major consumer and conservation groups called on Wednesday for "effective, science-based government regulation" of the sector, including a national registry of gene-edited plants and animals. By contrast, they said, the USDA has "substantially deregulated gene-edited plants and proposed a similarly minimal oversight system for gene-edited animals."

Lawsuit would overturn Trump-era rules on genetically engineered crops

The USDA “unconstitutionally delegated its own duties to protect farmers and the environment to GE crop developers” when it exempted most genetically engineered plants from pre-market reviews in 2020, said a coalition of farm, environment and consumer groups in a lawsuit filed on Monday. In it, …

USDA allows more time to discuss regulation of GE animals

The USDA announced an additional 60 days for public comment on a proposal that originated in the final weeks of the Trump administration to put USDA, rather than FDA, in charge of regulating livestock and poultry created through genetic engineering.

New USDA regulation waives review of many biotech plants

Three decades into the agricultural biotechnology era, the USDA said on Thursday that it will exempt genetically engineered plants from pre-market reviews if they are unlikely to pose an environmental risk. Opponents of the move said it means "a majority of genetically engineered and gene-edited plants will now escape any oversight" by the USDA.

Last-ditch fight against CRISPR deregulation in Australia

A government decision to deregulate gene-editing tools such as CRISPR met a last-stop challenge in the Australian Senate, with an organic farmers’ group expressing concerns that it will be “sacrificed for the sake of unregulated GMO tech.”

Rogue GE wheat found in U.S. Northwest for fourth time since 2013

The USDA has never approved cultivation of genetically engineered wheat, yet for the fourth time since April 2013 a wheat strain resistant to the weedkiller glyphosate was found growing wild in the northwestern United States. The discovery could disrupt wheat exports and it raises questions about USDA's ability to police agricultural biotechnology.

USDA would exempt many genetically engineered plants from regulation

In its newest attempt to overhaul biotechnology rules adopted in 1987, the USDA said it would exempt new crop varieties created through techniques such as gene editing from regulatory review, so long as the modifications are similar to those achieved by traditional breeding and pose no plant-pest risks.

USDA tiptoes into cell-based ‘meat ‘ argument

An estimated 40 companies worldwide are in the race to bring to market cell-based meat — "clean meat" in the eyes of proponents and "fake meat" according to ranchers. Asked if the product qualifies as meat, Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Mindy Brashears responded, "This is something we will be talking about. That is an important priority for us."

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."

EU ruling: Gene editing is the same as ‘classical’ genetic modification

The relatively new field of gene editing is a form of genetic engineering, according to a European Court of Justice ruling that would make technology such as CRISPR subject to the same regulations as the “classical” genetic modification technology of the 1980s, reported BBC News.

Genetic editing comes to aquaculture

Research into infectious salmon anemia could provide the pathway for genetic editing in aquaculture, says Undercurrent News. The chief executive of Benchmark Holdings told the site that genetic editing is a logical next step following a multiyear study to map the genome of salmon.

Debating the differences between gene-edited crops, GMOs, ‘accelerated breeding technology’

Thomas Stoddard used this pitch — “You make a little more money, you have a great experience, and you are part of a revolution” — when he recruited farmers to plant a gene-edited soybean variety that yields a healthier oil, says the MIT Technology Review.

Lawsuit calls for USDA to release study on QR codes and GMO food labeling

The anti-GMO group Center for Food Safety filed suit against the USDA to force release of a study on the impact of using digital disclosures such as QR codes to identify foods made with GMO ingredients. "In the United States, there has never been a food labeling requirement met by QR codes," says the center, which prefers a written label on food packages.

Lighthizer warning: Buy GMOs or expect a fight

The Trump administration will attack overseas regulations that restrict the export of GMO crops and other products resulting from American technological innovation, said U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at the first meeting of a newly created task force on rural America.

Brazil approves GMO sugar cane, a global first

The chief executive of CTC Centro de Tecnologia Canavieira announced that Brazilian regulators have approved the use of a genetically modified version of sugarcane, the first time any country has allowed commercialization of biotech cane.

USDA says it will change GE regulation approach, include genome-edited crops

The Agriculture Department will unveil today its proposal to update its regulatory framework of biotechnology. The plan is designed to speed up development of GE plants that do not pose a plant pest or weed risk, and to cover plants created through genome-editing techniques, such as CRISPR, if they pose plant pest or noxious-weed risk. At present, GE plants produced without the use of genetic sequences from plant pests — the traditional method of genetic modification — are not subject to federal biotechnology rules.

USDA deregulates GE bentgrass that escaped field trials

Based on its belief that a genetically engineered strain of bentgrass “is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk,” the USDA agency in charge of biotechnology has deregulated the grass, which escaped field trials in 2003 and grows in the wild in two Oregon counties, said Capital Press. The deregulation followed an agreement by Scotts, the developer of the grass, not to commercialize the variety.

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