House passes Ag-FDA spending bill that boosts biotech

The House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday, July 20, that would give the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the direction and resources to issue guidance on gene-editing in plants—bringing us closer to a watershed in regulation for which BIO has fought for five years—along with several other biotech-friendly measures.

The Fiscal Year 2023 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food & Drug Administration and Related Agencies appropriations bill passed as part of a six-bill minibus spending package, reports The Hill. The bill included a bipartisan amendment from Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) and Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN) to direct FDA to “modernize its regulatory process for new products produced through techniques like gene editing.”

Additional key amendments would:

  • Streamline FDA’s review and approval of animal food ingredients, like feed additives that reduce methane in cattle to fight climate change.
  • Urge USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to establish a predictable, science-based regulatory pathway for genetically engineered microbes.
  • Encourage the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support non-profit transgenic plant research.
  • Provide $16 million for the Agricultural Research Service to leverage current resources to help find solutions to agricultural challenges through biotechnology.
  • Require USDA and FDA to collaborate in the development of animal biotech regulations.

BIO calls for greater transparency in biotech regulations

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) has long advocated for a regulatory system that supports innovation—and in April, outlined priorities for the bill passed yesterday, many of which were adopted.

To enable advances in technology that address climate concerns and ensure food security, we need “transparent regulations that spur biological innovations while protecting health and the environment,” BIO explained.

“The bill passed by the House supports the innovation needed to secure the food supply and advance sustainable technologies that enable farmers and ranchers to help fight climate change,” says BIO’s Chief Policy Officer John Murphy in a statement after the passage of the appropriations bill on Wednesday.

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