Washington—President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will simplify the regulatory process for genetically engineered agriculture.
The order, signed this past week in Iowa, comes at a time when companies across the nation are using newer genetic engineering techniques. Those techniques make it easier to improve the traits of plants and animals.
Andrew Walmsley, American Farm Bureau Federation congressional relations director, says the executive order will update regulations enacted decades ago.
“It’s truly looking at the regulations to update those. But then also, engaging in a dialogue, not only across agencies, but with consumers, outreach, and education on the science of agricultural innovation. And then finally, international engagement, making sure that we don’t have an impediment of trade and that an environment for innovation is right,” said Walmsley.
The order was viewed as a way to help farmers caught in the middle of Trump’s trade war with China. One of the benefits of Trump’s executive order calls for direct discussions on the regulation of gene editing of livestock.
“Farm Bureau and I know a lot of our livestock partners have concerns on how FDA’s viewing gene edited animals. So, hopefully, this is an opportunity for stakeholders to provide input and the White House to lead directly to make sure we have an environment for agricultural innovation into the future,” said Walmsley.
Farmers and ranchers say that they need regulations that foster innovation to create new tools and meet future challenges.
“The foundation in this country of agricultural research and innovation continue to be strong, and part of that is a policy perspective. So, this is direction there that farmers hopefully will have the tools that are affordable, that help improve efficiencies and help keep them farming well into the future, and that’s going to take agricultural innovation,” added Walmsley.
The order would also pressure international trading partners like China to lift trade biotech barriers, which creates new products like pesticides and genetically engineered plants bred to resist diseases according to Ag insiders.
The White House said in a fact sheet that securing regulatory approvals for genetically engineered agricultural products can take decades and “will help eliminate delays, reduce developer costs, and provide greater certainty about the review process for farmers."
Federal agencies are still looking into the details of the executive order. But the White House says that the order will help eliminate delays and reduce costs for producers.