Trump Administration Withdraws Oversight of Gene Edited Crops, Removing Critical Safeguards

EDF statement from Doria Gordon, Lead Senior Scientist

May 14, 2020
Chandler Clay, (202) 572-3312, cclay@edf.org

(WASHINGTON, D.C. –  May 14, 2020) The majority of gene edited crops will no longer be subject to oversight by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under revised regulations issued today by the Trump Administration.

Multiple environmental groups, consumer organizations, biotech crop developers and food industry stakeholders have expressed concerns with provisions that allow crop developers to self-determine whether their products are subject to regulation and release products into the market without any record.

“The public should be able to trust that USDA ensures a safe and transparent path to developing a climate resilient food supply, but this rule undermines that trust.

“Concerns about oversight, risk assessment and transparency were ignored in the USDA rule released today, which reverses the requirement that USDA provide safety evaluations prior to release of most genetically engineered plants into the environment, unless the crop developer requests the evaluation. 

“While we support efforts to reduce the time and expense of bringing new products to the marketplace, this decision to largely deregulate gene edited plants is shortsighted and irresponsible.

“This rule will result in inadequate safeguards for human health and the environment, and the lack of transparency is likely to undermine consumer support of genetically edited products.

“While the majority of gene edited crops are likely to be safe and beneficial to society, enhancing food security as climate extremes threaten crop yields, the adopted regulations threaten rather than increase our potential to use this technology.”

  • Doria Gordon, lead senior scientist, Environmental Defense Fund

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