Crop Biotech Update

US Agriculture Secretary Issues USDA Statement on Plant Breeding Innovation

April 4, 2018

United States Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, has issued a statement to provide clarification on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques which include genome editing.

The statement says that under its biotechnology regulations, USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. This includes a set of new techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods. The newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.

Secretary Perdue said, "Plant breeding innovation holds enormous promise for helping protect crops against drought and diseases while increasing nutritional value and eliminating allergens. Using this science, farmers can continue to meet consumer expectations for healthful, affordable food produced in a manner that consumes fewer natural resources. This new innovation will help farmers do what we aspire to do at USDA: do right and feed everyone."

For more, read the USDA press release.