Members of the American Soybean Association’s (ASA) Biotech Working Group recently met in Washington, D.C., to discuss, among other items, a new effort on the part of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to streamline the approval process of new biotech traits.

Michael Gregoire, deputy administrator for APHIS’ Biotechnology Regulatory Services Program, spoke before the group comprising soybean farmer leaders and industry stakeholders on his agency’s initiative to increase efficiencies in the regulatory review process for new biotech traits. 

“The soybean industry and its farmers have much to gain from biotech innovations that increase yield, improve nutrition, resist disease, offer competition and alternatives in the marketplace, and help in managing weed resistance issues, and we’re lucky to have a seemingly continuous pipeline of these innovations awaiting approval,” said ASA President Steve Wellman, a soybean farmer from Syracuse, Neb. “To hear that APHIS is invested in making the approvals process more efficient is encouraging to both farmers and to biotech innovators.”

Additional presentations at the Biotech Working Group Meeting included an update on the biotech approvals process within the Chinese marketplace by USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s Mark Petry, as well as a review of the biotech landscape in the European Union. The meeting also included consultations with individual technology companies on their biotech pipelines, the status of regulatory clearances in foreign markets, and stewardship plans for new biotech traits.

Formed by ASA in 2007, the Biotech Working Group comprises farmer-leaders and staff from ASA, the United Soybean Board, the U.S. Soybean Export Council, and the major technology companies that are developing new biotech soybean events.