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.
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.
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.
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."
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."
The former head of EPA's cancer assessment review committee, Jess Rowlands, advised European counterparts to disregard a study that linked cancer in mice to glyphosate, the most widely used weedkiller in the world, said The Guardian. It said court documents show that Rowlands "had previously told Monsanto he would try to block a U.S. inquiry into the issue."
New York "is one step closer to becoming the first state to have genetically modified, non-sterile insects released" for an open-air trial against the crop-damaging diamondback month, says news site EcoWatch. The public comment period has closed on USDA's environmental assessment, which says the proposed field trial is unlikely to cause adverse effects on plants, soil, water and people.
Years ago, Tropicana used the slogan "Flavors Mother Nature never intended" to sell mixed juices to Americans. In a moden-day version, the USDA is tracking down petunias with colors that nature never intended — they're genetically engineered to produce blooms of orange, red and purple with names such as African Sunset, Trilogy Mango and Sweetunia Orange Flash.
With a decision by the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, farmers in the state can now plant three varieties of genetically modified potatoes produced by J.R. Simplot Co., says the Bangor Daily News.