Biotech Industry To Self-Regulate

Biotech crop makers are increasing self-regulation to avoid the accidental spread of genetic material, a move that will definitely benefit you and your grower-customers.

These incidents can cost companies access to foreign markets, consumer confidence, and big legal bills.

The Biotechnology Industry Organization, a Washington-based trade group, will design and administer the program, dubbed "Excellence Through Stewardship."

Member companies — including the world’s six largest providers of genetically modified seeds — will adopt quality management standards, then undergo independent third-party audits to verify compliance. The goal is to track and control genetic crop traits in research discovery, through field trials, marketing, and eventual phaseout.

No one wants these genes to turn up in places they’re not supposed to be — such as last year’s surprise finding of unapproved LibertyLink genes in commercially available long-grain rice.

Regulators found the trait, developed by Bayer CropScience, was harmless and subsequently approved it for the market. But damage was done: Japan, the European Union, and other countries closed to U.S. rice imports. Prices fell, then growers suffered and filed a class-action lawsuit against Bayer in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, MO.

"The industry is trying its best, in a world that’s not 100 percent perfect, to self-regulate and self-police because it’s in their best interest," says Marshall Martin, associate director of agricultural research programs at Purdue University.

The stewardship program will roll out in three phases. Companies will self-certify they have adopted the program in their domestic operations by early next year. At the end of next year, they will have completed audits by independent firms that are trained and certified by BIO, the industry organization. In 2009, BIO member companies will roll out the program to operations abroad.

Andrew Baum, chairman of BIO’s Food and Agricultural Section Governing Body, notes companies always have had quality management standards. "It’s not as if (the Bayer incident) took place and we had an epiphany," he says. "We were moving towards this anyway."

What’s more, the stewardship program should raise all boats by making the best practices of industry giants available to smaller companies, university researchers and players abroad, according to BIO.

Participants hope the program will stave off future leaks of biotech traits into conventional crops, which damage consumer acceptance of their products.

It’s a pivotal time for the industry, as it nears commercialization of a generation of crops engineered with traits that add consumer benefits– healthy-oil and omega-3 enriched soybeans, for example. Shoppers need to trust the safety of the technology for these to succeed.

Leave a Reply

Latest News
Food IT Fork-to-Farm
Precision AgThe Mixing Bowl Event Connects Technology, Food, and Ag…
May 24, 2017
For the fourth consecutive year, The Mixing Bowl presents FOOD IT, under the theme “Fork to Farm.” Action-oriented entrepreneurs, industry Read More
Photo credit: The United Soybean Board/The Soybean Checkoff.
Seed/BiotechKansas State University Researchers Find New Pathogens …
May 24, 2017
A single seed seems so simple. Put it in the ground, give it some care, and you’ve soon grown food. Read More
Soybean Field
HerbicidesNew Dicamba Herbicide Premix Coming Soon from Syngenta
May 24, 2017
Syngenta has announced the name of its new herbicide featuring the active ingredients of S-metolachlor and dicamba. Upon registration by Read More
Eric SfiligojMonsanto ‘Picks Its Battles’ by Nixing Deere Deal
May 23, 2017
Having been in the trade journalism game since the mid-1980s, I remember several watershed moments during my career. One of Read More
FungicidesSyngenta Launches New Seed Treatment Fungicide
May 22, 2017
Syngenta has announced the launch of PLENARIS seed treatment fungicide for the control of downy mildew in sunflower. PLENARIS contains Read More
Corn close up
Crop InputsMonsanto’s First HPPD Herbicide Garners EPA Appro…
May 19, 2017
Monsanto announced today that EPA has federally approved Harness MAX Herbicide, the first herbicide in the Monsanto portfolio to provide Read More
ManagementPrecision Planting Deal, China Developments, and Enviro…
May 18, 2017
Editors Eric Sfiligoj and Dan Jacobs discuss the latest news on John Deere’s now dead deal for Precision Planting, China’s Read More
Soybean aphid leaf
InsecticidesMulti-state Research Reveals IPM Best Option for Treatm…
May 17, 2017
About 89.5 million acres of soybeans will be planted across the U.S. in 2017 — a record high, according to Read More
GROWMARK-2017-Interns
CropLife 100GROWMARK Names 2017 Summer Interns
May 16, 2017
Forty-two college students are exploring agricultural career opportunities this summer as GROWMARK interns. They are working at FS member cooperatives Read More
Migrant farm workers
LegislationTrump: Immigration Crackdown Won’t Impact U.S. Ag…
May 16, 2017
President Donald Trump said he would seek to keep his tough immigration enforcement policies from harming the U.S. farm industry Read More
Flooded corn in Indiana
FertilizerBoth Wet and Dry Conditions Threaten Nitrogen Loss
May 15, 2017
The weather is notoriously unpredictable, leading to challenges for planting, harvesting and applying the nitrogen (N) your corn crop needs. Read More
farmer Kip Tom
Precision AgAg Tech: On the Cusp of Something Big?
May 15, 2017
The investment and ag-tech sectors’ continuing courtship of agriculture, smoldering for three or four years now, was well in evidence at Read More
AGCO Ratliff featured
Eric SfiligojRemembering Robert Ratliff
May 15, 2017
With all the fast-paced happenings in agriculture this spring, with multiple mergers in the works and planting season in full Read More
Greg Musson, Gar Tootelian
ManagementOpinion: Shaking Your Perspective in Ag Retail
May 12, 2017
Some of you I’m sure have encountered our recently retired salesman extraordinaire, Dan Bellanger. He worked in the industry for Read More
Exterior view of CPS Big Lake facility which includes enclosed receiving and load out area
CropLife 100New Alternative Weed Resistance Traits Could Experience…
May 12, 2017
It wasn’t too many years ago that ag retailers and their grower-customers could hardly wait for new options to fight Read More
Diane Allemang and Dan Jacobs
Crop InputsFMC Agricultural Solutions, Casa Pacifica Partner to He…
May 11, 2017
FMC Agricultural Solutions is teaming up with Casa Pacifica Centers for Children and Families, an organization that supports vulnerable children Read More
UncategorizedWhat’s Up With ARA
May 11, 2017
CropLife Editor Eric Sfiligoj talks with Brian Reuwee regarding what issues are on the docket for the Agricultural Retailers Association. Read More
BASF Maglis tablet retailer grower
Precision AgQ&A: What BASF’s Latest Foray into Precision …
May 11, 2017
In late April, BASF agreed to acquire U.S. precision ag player ZedX, a leader in the development of agronomic weather, Read More