President Trump has promised to do away with many of the regulations that impact agriculture. This will be good for farmers and will result in faster technology approval and innovation. That was the conclusion of a panel discussion at the Bayer Crop Science AgVocacy Forum.
When it comes to regulations on food and agricultural products, activist groups have been far more active and effective in the regulatory process than agriculture, according to Wayne Parrott, who has been researching the safety of biotech crops at the University of Georgia for 20 years. “When it comes to regulations, you are either at the table when they are discussed or you are on the menu.” He said groups who have never been in a field of GMO crops, like the Sierra Club or Organic Consumers, are very good about making sure their voice is at the table, “They like to get in your face and make their opinions known to the regulators and elected officials. By contrast, the response by farm groups , academics, and science organizations has been timid and shy.”
Parrott said USDA and EPA regulations focus on the process that is used and not on the safety of the product, “This is in contrast with the FDA that says they don’t care how a product is produced just if it is safe.” He added the real disadvantage to the USDA and EPA approach is that it takes so long to approve a technology that it is out of date before approval is given. This slowness is a disincentive for companies to invest in new technology for agriculture.
Dr. John Goldberg, with Science Based Strategies, said doing away with many of the regulations is going to take a long time, “You cannot take an ax and just cut these up and toss them out.” While he supports the goals of the new administration, he is skeptical there will be a lot of change.
Both men feel, as the U.S. begin to eliminate regulations on biotechnology, this will help other nations around the world be more accepting of the technology. “The U.S. started regulating biotechnology so the rest of the world thinks they are dangerous,” said Goldberg.
The AgVocacy Forum is an annual event held before Commodity Classic to explore the critical scientific and consumer issues facing the food industry. Sponsored by Bayer, it brings together a wide range of experts along with agricultural journalists and bloggers.