The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said Thursday it has revised its regulations removing oversight of the majority of genetically engineered and gene edited crops.
The provisions under the agency’s new Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient (SECURE) rule, which the USDA says removes “duplicative and antiquated processes,” not only allows GMO crop developers to self-determine whether their products are regulated, but does not require developers to notify the agency of GMO crop products they believe are exempt under the new regulations.
“The result is that government regulators and the public will have no idea what products will enter the market and whether those products appropriately qualified for an exemption from oversight,” said Gregory Jaffe of the consumer advocacy group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “They will stealthily enter our food supply at a time when consumers want greater transparency, leading to potential consumer backlash and acceptance problems, even for safe and beneficial products. That is why many industry members supported increased transparency.”
The USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said it will now evaluate plants developed using genetic engineering or gene editing for plant pest risk under a new process called a regulatory status review, regulating only those that “plausibly pose an increased plant pest risk.”
“Although initially this could result in a larger and more diverse group of products being subject to regulation, the final rule establishes regulatory off ramps for products that we know do not pose plant pest risk,” APHIS said. “Moreover, in contrast to the current regulations, once a specific plant developed through genetic engineering is found not to require regulation, new varieties of the plant containing the same genetic modification would similarly not be regulated.”
The new SECURE rule notice will publish in the Federal Register on Monday. See the unofficial notice version here.