Biotech Updates

APEC Economies Tackle Regulatory and Policy Solutions for Agri-biotech

August 2, 2023

Over 120 representatives of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies convened at Seattle Convention Center to identify regulatory and policy solutions for science-based and risk-appropriate oversight of agricultural biotechnologies. The event titled Workshop on Reducing Redundancies and Facilitating Efficiencies was organized by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Agriculture Food Systems Institute (AFSI). The workshop is part of the APEC 2023 High Level Policy Dialogue on Agricultural Biotechnology (HLPDAB) activities.

According to Dr. Andrew Roberts, Chief Executive Officer of AFSI, the critical ingredients for successful regulatory cooperation include shared goals, shared instruments, shared technical competence, trust and relationships, and shared understanding of benefits. He stressed that many forms of regulatory cooperation exist across multiple dimensions, but attaining success can be challenging. However, the HLPDAB initiatives provide a platform towards regulatory cooperation among the APEC economies.

Representatives from the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications Inc. (ISAAA Inc.), led by Executive Director Dr. Rhodora Romero-Aldemita, participated in the discussions to ensure that the benefits of genetically engineered and gene-edited products are given due consideration.

Aside from the workshop on regulation and policy, the HLPDAB also placed a spotlight on 16 early career scientists and their innovations to tackle new developments in agri-biotech and emphasize the role of youth in innovation. The innovative start-ups presented include the biofortification of rice grains through genome editing to address zinc deficiency in the region, which was presented by Mr. Erwin Arcillas, Assistant Scientist at the International Rice Research Institute based in the Philippines. The research used CRISPR and TALENs technology to develop zinc-enriched rice grains.

Aside from government regulators, scientists, and academics, farmer organizations and seed industry representatives also participated in the events to share their voices on the matters discussed and ensure inclusive regulatory cooperation among the key players.

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