13 WTO Members Support Policy Approaches to Enable Innovation in AgricultureNovember 7, 2018
The International Statement on Agricultural Applications of Precision Biotechnology was released in Geneva by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Committee on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures on October 26, 2018. At the Committee's meeting on November 1-2, 2018, WTO members discussed the role that precision biotechnology techniques can play in agricultural innovation, with a view to providing farmers around the world with access to tools that increase productivity while preserving environmental sustainability.
The communication is being circulated at the request of delegations from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, the United States of America, and Uruguay. Thirteen member countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, The Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Paraguay, Uruguay, the United States of America and Uruguay), 10 of each planted biotech crops in 2017, have supported the international statement. The effort in drafting the statement began in Argentina during the "Seminar on Genome Editing for Regulators", organized by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in April 2018. The Secretariat of the Economic Community of West African States has also supported the statement.
The WTO communication states that "precision biotechnology techniques, as a whole, constitute an essential tool for agricultural innovation. Their use provides farmers with access to products that increase productivity while preserving environmental sustainability."
The United States has expressed strong support for the international statement through Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who said "Precision biotechnologies such as genome editing hold great promise for both farmers and consumers around the world." In Canada, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, Lawrence MacAulay is pleased that his country joined the support. Minister MacAulay said "Today, we are sending a strong message that we stand ready to work with our global partners in support of transparent, predictable and science-based regulatory approaches to reduce potential trade disruptions and allow for the commercialization of precision biotechnology products."
For more details, read the WTO news release. Read the text of the joint statement, which is being updated as additional countries sign on, at the WTO website. The press statement issued by the United States is available at the Department of State website. The press release from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada is available here.
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