- On June 12, 2019
Alexandria, VA–June 12, 2019–The American Seed Trade Association (ASTA) praises the Executive Order (EO) by the Trump Administration in recognition of the important and necessary role of plant breeding innovation in solving some of our most pressing agricultural and environmental challenges. The EO on innovation in agricultural biotechnology provides an important framework to drive forward plant breeding innovation by streamlining regulatory systems across federal agencies and working toward alignment at the global level.
“Evolving breeding methods like gene editing hold exciting potential for both public- and private- sector plant breeding programs of every size and sector, from specialty crops to row crops,” said ASTA President & CEO Andy LaVigne. “To fully realize the potential of these innovations, plant breeders need clarity and consistency around plant breeding policy, both domestically and internationally. This includes ensuring that USDA, FDA and EPA are coordinated in their approaches, with clearly defined, science- and risk-based roles and responsibilities that focus on the end-product, not the breeding method.”
Countries around the world are encouraging the use of innovative tools to tackle challenges in agriculture and food production. Late last year 13 governments, including the U.S., joined together in signing an International Statement on Agricultural Applications of Precision Biotechnology. This was a strong and encouraging showing of international support in recognition of plant breeding innovation, and the critical role that it will play in ensuring a more sustainable and secure global food production system.
“Through evolving plant breeding methods, like gene editing, scientists are able to create new varieties in years, instead of decades,” said LaVigne. “This has never been more important as we race against the clock to find solutions to address critical environmental challenges facing today’s food production system. Plant breeding innovation holds tremendous promise for the future of our planet, our health and our food.”
What could plant breeding innovation mean for our future?
Current gene editing research is showing remarkable promise for real-world environmental benefits including: lettuce that can grow with less water, meaning a reduction in the amount of freshwater needed for agriculture production and crops that can grow in higher heat and drought conditions; a reduction in food waste and its global carbon footprint, through crops like potatoes that are less likely to bruise and brown; and the ability to grow crops with built-in disease resistance, using less land and fewer inputs. Plant scientists are also conducting research with potential benefits for our health and food, like: wheat that’s higher in protein and fiber, or lower in gluten; heart-healthy oils; and crops like sweet potatoes and carrots with more beta-carotene.
ASTA thanks the Administration for its stand for innovation, and looks forward to supporting efforts towards clear, consistent, science- and risk-based policies to further innovation within the U.S. and across the globe.