Biotech Updates

APHIS to Improve GE Petition and Risk Assessment Processes

November 18, 2011

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will streamline and improve several programmatic processes including the agency's process for making determinations on petitions for nonregulated status for genetically engineered (GE) plants. APHIS grants such petitions when it determines that a GE product does not pose a plant pest risk and should not be subject to APHIS regulation.

"APHIS will significantly reduce the average length of the petition process while maintaining strong oversight," said Ed Avalos, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. "The new process will also provide the opportunity for earlier input from the public on petitions for deregulations, allowing USDA to better serve all its stakeholders. This change is part of our commitment to improving the customer experience by streamlining processes, accelerating delivery and using innovative technologies."

The improvements in the regulatory processes will reduce by more than 50 percent the length of the petition process. APHIS explained that "a more predictable timeframe will enable developers to bring products granted nonregulated status to market more quickly and provide growers with more choices and access to new technologies sooner, while enabling APHIS to maintain its mission to protect U.S. agriculture and the environment from plant pests."

In addition, APHIS will streamline and improve its processes for conducting risk assessments and rulemaking. "Risk assessment and rulemaking are at the heart of APHIS' efforts as a regulatory agency," said Ed Avalos, undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. "Our ambitious review, however, found ways to capture significant time-savings while protecting agriculture and supporting trade."

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