Pork producers received good news on Tuesday when President Trump signed an executive order (EO) to streamline regulations for agriculture biotechnology.
Trump signed the order during a visit to an ethanol plant in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and said this will “speed up reviews of biotechnology so that farmers can get access to critical scientific advances faster and reap the full benefits of American innovation for many years into the future.”
Based on recommendations by the administration's Rural Development Taskforce, the EO provides a framework to support leadership in emerging technologies such as gene editing for livestock, an innovation that promises to eliminate costly diseases that cause animal suffering, lowers the need to use antibiotics and further reduces agriculture's environmental impact.
The order directs the USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to collaborate on common sense regulations while developing awareness and education programs to gain acceptance of new technologies by consumers and global trading partners.
"Agriculture is one of the crown jewels of the U.S. economy," said David Herring, NPPC president and a pork producer from Lillington, N.C. "Today's executive order paves the way for common sense regulation to keep America first in agriculture so that we remain the global leader in an economic sector that has offset the U.S. trade imbalance for decades and that is so critical for the prosperity of our rural communities."
Herring said the United States is falling behind countries such as Canada, Brazil and China that have established regulatory frameworks conducive to investment in the development of gene editing.
"We are hopeful that this executive order breaks the FDA's current grip on gene editing so a regulatory framework can be established at the USDA to ensure that American farmers – not our competitors in foreign markets – realize its vast potential," he said.
The FDA continues to advance a regulatory framework for gene-edited livestock that runs counter to Tuesday’s executive order, a NPPC release said. Despite no statutory requirement, the FDA currently holds regulatory authority over gene editing in food-producing animals. FDA oversight will treat any gene-edited animal as a living animal drug – and every farm raising them a drug manufacturing facility – undermining U.S. agricultural competitiveness relative to other countries with more progressive gene editing regulatory policies.
Later this month, NPPC plans to launch a new campaign, Keep America First in Agriculture, to increase awareness and understanding of gene editing's promise for livestock agriculture.
“We need all the tools in the toolbox to meet the challenge of feeding everyone now and into the future – if we do not put these safe biotechnology advances to work here at home, our competitors in other nations will,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Science-based advances in biotechnology have great promise to enhance rural prosperity and improve the quality of life across America’s heartland and around the globe.”
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