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WTO members voice support for plant breeding innovation

Statement reiterates international commitment to fair, science-based treatment of evolving plant breeding methods, like gene editing.

Jacqui Fatka

November 2, 2018

2 Min Read
WTO members voice support for plant breeding innovation

The U.S. has joined with 12 other nations to support policies that enable agricultural innovation, including genome editing, according to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue. The "International Statement on Agricultural Applications of Precision Biotechnology" was released in Geneva, Switzerland, at the World Trade Organization's Committee on the Application of Sanitary & Phytosanitary Measures.

Countries and organizations supporting the statement, to date, are: Argentina, which led this effort, as well as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Paraguay, the U.S., Uruguay, Vietnam and the Secretariat of the Economic Community of West African States.

“Precision biotechnologies such as genome editing hold great promise for both farmers and consumers around the world. These tools can play a critical role in helping farmers address many of the production challenges they face while improving the quality and nutritional value of foods available to consumers worldwide,” Perdue said.

“Unfortunately, such technologies too often face regulatory roadblocks that are based on misinformation and political posturing. Therefore, it’s gratifying to see Argentina and other allies come together under the WTO umbrella to publicly embrace science-based regulatory systems that will allow us to unlock the huge potential of these new technologies,” he added.

The American Seed Trade Assn. (ASTA) applauded the proactive, coordinated action by the 13 countries.

“This is a strong showing of support by governments around the world in recognition of the necessity of continued evolution in plant breeding and the critical role it will play in ensuring a more sustainable and secure global food production system,” ASTA president and chief executive Andrew LaVigne said. “Seed is a global industry, and in light of the recent disappointing decision by the European Court of Justice, efforts such as this international statement are more important than ever in working toward the goal of global alignment on policies around agricultural innovation.”

LaVigne continued, “We applaud the U.S. government for its strong international leadership in support of coordinated, science-based policies around evolving plant breeding methods. The American seed industry is founded on innovation, and plant scientists have been successfully developing and improving crop varieties for hundreds of years – with tremendous benefits for American farmers and the health of our families and our environment. Our ability to continue to progress and find solutions to the challenges of tomorrow -- from climate change to evolving pests and diseases and a growing population -- will largely be dependent on the policies enacted both here in the U.S. and around the world.”

About the Author(s)

Jacqui Fatka

Policy editor, Farm Futures

Jacqui Fatka grew up on a diversified livestock and grain farm in southwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications, with a minor in agriculture education, in 2003. She’s been writing for agricultural audiences ever since. In college, she interned with Wallaces Farmer and cultivated her love of ag policy during an internship with the Iowa Pork Producers Association, working in Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Capitol Hill press office. In 2003, she started full time for Farm Progress companies’ state and regional publications as the e-content editor, and became Farm Futures’ policy editor in 2004. A few years later, she began covering grain and biofuels markets for the weekly newspaper Feedstuffs. As the current policy editor for Farm Progress, she covers the ongoing developments in ag policy, trade, regulations and court rulings. Fatka also serves as the interim executive secretary-treasurer for the North American Agricultural Journalists. She lives on a small acreage in central Ohio with her husband and three children.

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