03/12/2007 - In the 20 years since the federal Coordinated Framework for regulating biotechnology was put in place by the United States government, the scientific community has learned volumes about crops and their genetic transformation. In recognition of the importance of specialty crops—fruits, vegetables, nuts and nursery crops—a workshop held in Washington, D.C., on January 18 and 19, 2007, sought to use this knowledge to identify regulatory challenges and to develop suggestions for enhancing the U.S. regulatory process for biotech specialty crops.
The workshop, entitled “Emerging Challenges for Biotech Specialty Crops,” was sponsored by The Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology (PIFB) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). It brought together a small group of government regulators and scientific experts, industry representatives and policy makers from the biotech specialty crops sector to identify regulatory challenges and their potential solutions.
Specialty crops form a vital sector of the U.S. economy and of Americans’ diets. Yet the development of biotech crop varieties with traits that could benefit farmers, consumers, and the environment faces stiff regulatory challenges. Because of the diversity of specialty crops, these challenges often go beyond those encountered by commodity crops like soybeans and corn.
The workshop came at a critical time for specialty crop producers and for APHIS, which is in the process of revising its biotech regulations. Presentations, focused group discussions, and break-out sessions indicated critical issues in need of attention and suggested practical and creative solutions and approaches to the challenges ahead.
Read the full workshop report Emerging Challenges for Biotech Specialty Crops.