WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is reopening the nomination process for the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21). The committee will examine the long-term impacts of biotechnology on the U.S. food and agriculture system and provide guidance to USDA on pressing individual issues related to the application of biotechnology in agriculture.

"Products produced from biotechnology will continue to be an important part of U.S. agriculture, and USDA has a complex and critical role in protecting consumers, the environment, and the farm economy while also contributing to global food needs," said Vilsack. "This Advisory Committee will be asked to bring information and insights to inform our decisions, in keeping with President Obama's commitment to seeking the best advice available."

USDA encourages nominations from a broad range of interests including scientists, consumer advocates, agricultural producers, medical professionals, international traders and others with a stake in USDA programs.

The nomination process is being reopened to supplement the names obtained through an earlier solicitation of nominees late in 2008. The Committee is composed of 20 to 25 members who represent a broad range of interests and expertise. Appointees will serve terms of up to two years and can be reappointed to serve up to six consecutive years. At least 12 slots on the committee, including the Chair's, will need to be filled. An announcement describing the requirements for submitting nominations was published in the March 30, 2009, Federal Register.