Ag groups urge practical biotech crop policy
In a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Ranking Member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) this week, nine national agricultural associations joined together in expressing support for a provision in the fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill related to previously approved biotech crops.
The provision would give growers assurance that biotech crops that have already been approved by USDA can be planted and harvested under temporary stewardship conditions in the event of litigation against USDA’s registration decision. The provision (Section 733) was introduced by Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jack Kingston (R-Ga.). The wording that could be included in the House appropriations bill “addresses a costly vulnerability in the regulatory process for biotechnology that is discouraging innovation in agriculture and unnecessarily putting farmers at financial risk,” according to the letter signees.
Those associations signing the letter were the Agricultural Retailers Association, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Seed Trade Association, American Soybean Association, American Sugarbeet Growers Association, Biotechnology Industry Organization, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Corn Growers Association and National Cotton Council.
“Opponents of agricultural biotechnology have repeatedly filed suits against USDA on procedural grounds in order to disrupt the regulatory process and undermine the science-based regulation of such products,” the letter explains. “These lawsuits have also created tremendous resource constraints for USDA and have resulted in significant delays in approval of new, innovative products that will help growers provide Americans with an abundant and economical food supply while remaining competitive in the world market.”
"Section 733 provides certainty to growers with respect to their planting decisions. If enacted, growers would be assured that the crops they plant could continue to be grown, subject to appropriate interim conditions, even after a judicial ruling against USDA,” continued the group letter. “The inclusion of Section 733 is a positive step to ensure that U.S. farmers and our food chain are shielded from supply disruptions caused by litigation over procedural issues unrelated to sound science or the safety of biotech crops. This legislative solution ensures that national agricultural policy is not being decided by the court system while providing a level of certainty that is critical to ensure that our agricultural producers continue to lead the world."