BIO CEO: Regulatory certainty needed to encourage food innovation

Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath - BIO president and CEO

In an opinion piece for Agri-Pulse, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Health argued that “FDA’s recent efforts to develop a more functional regulatory system for biotech animals will ensure the health and safety of animals, consumers, and the environment while fostering innovation” – in other words, regulatory certainty.

“However, engaging with FDA on further improvements is difficult because a key guidance document appears stalled at the Office of Management and Budget,” she continued.

A recent survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation finds that 74% of US farmers say that drought is reducing the harvest yields, Bio.News reports.

Dr. McMurry-Heath stated that “nearly half of U.S. winter wheat production (the kind used to make bread) was in areas experiencing drought, according to USDA’s Drought Monitor.”

Furthermore: “Half of the nation’s cattle inventory is in drought areas, as well as 42% of durum wheat production (the kind in pasta), 56% of barley production, 42% of dairy cows, 41% of alfalfa, and 35% of hay used for animal feed,” she says.

Meanwhile, climate change and the war in Ukraine are harming global food supply.

McMurry-Heath notes that “companies like Bayer CropScience are developing corn and rice hybrids that are more resilient to drought and heat stress, reducing the amount of water needed to grow them.”

“Other companies including Corteva Agriscience and BASF are developing the next generation of soybeans resistant to pests—and increased pestilence is a growing concern as our climate warms.”

“A Minnesota company, Acceligen, has developed heat-tolerant cattle, using gene editing to create shorter, or ‘slick,’ coats that help the animals stay cooler,” Dr. McMurry-Heath adds.

Regulatory certainty is needed for biotechnology

According to Dr. McMurry-Heath, biotech support is needed in the form of a “clear, science-based, and efficient regulatory system.”

“Unfortunately, the U.S. government has fallen behind in developing policy on biotechnology and gene editing,” she states.

Specifically:

Other countries should also step up

Dr. McMurry-Heath states “this regulatory uncertainty is not limited to the United States.”

“Mexico is a top market for U.S. farmers and ranchers, but its non-science-based treatment of innovative agricultural biotech products is undermining the development and deployment of agricultural technologies critical to sustainably feeding the world and addressing climate change,” she states in her opinion piece.

As Bio.News recently reported, Mexico’s treatment of biotech corn is a “lose-lose scenario.”

“Agriculture and science are moving rapidly to meet food demand and adapt to a changing climate,” concludes Dr. McMurry-Heath. “We need practical, workable government regulations, both in the U.S. and abroad, to strengthen food security through innovation.”

Read the whole op-ed on Agri-Pulse.

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