Dunn, Panetta lead bipartisan agriculture letter to promote innovative biotech policy

Eighty Lawmakers Urge Administration to Adopt “Consistent, Science-Based” Regulatory Structure

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Neal Dunn, M.D. (FL-02) and Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) led a bipartisan group of 79 House members in urging the USDA, FDA, and EPA to work together to promote innovative new technologies, including agricultural gene editing, to increase yields and reduce the cost of production. In the letter to Secretary Perdue, Commissioner Gottlieb, and Administrator Pruitt, the membersseek the agencies’ cooperation in creating consistent regulatory proposals that foster innovation.

The Administration’s Interagency Taskforce on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity is currently exploring regulatory improvement opportunities, and the regulatory system for biotechnology products has been under review by the USDA, FDA and EPA for the better part of the year. Given this comprehensive review, the group of lawmakers, which includes a bipartisan majority of the House Agriculture Committee, are urging the Administration to take into consideration the importance of a consistent, science-based, risk-proportionate regulatory system that enjoys the confidence of trading partners and consumers alike. The letter is signed by the Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (R-TX) and Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-MN) as well as the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research Chairman Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Ranking Member Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM). Last year, Congress provided $3 million in FY17 to FDA and USDA for these purposes.

The effort is in response to duplicative or inconsistent regulatory proposals. In January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a draft revision to its Part 340 biotechnology regulations. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) then proposed expanding the scope of its guidance for industry (GFI) #187 to regulate any animal intentionally altered using gene editing techniques as a “new animal drug.” These conflicting proposals do not provide the consistent, appropriate system needed to promote the development of these innovative tools.

“Once again, the federal government is hindering good science with red tape. As a doctor, I want to ensure that any regulatory decisions we make concerning the agriculture industry are purely science-based. Having the ability to carry out gene editing will reduce the cost of growing food and make wholesome nutritional products abundant and affordable for consumers,” said Dr. Dunn. “The United States is leading the world in agricultural biotechnology, and will continue to lead, if we compliment the research with a modern regulatory system that promotes innovation and enjoys the confidence of trading partners and consumers alike.”

“Improved coordination between these government agencies will benefit consumers and producers alike,” said Congressman Panetta. “As the representative of the Salad Bowl of the World, I understand that the competitiveness of our region’s and country’s agriculture industry depends on continued federal investments in transformative tools like biotechnology. That is why I am proud to join Congressman Dunn in a bipartisan effort to ensure that our nation’s biotechnology policies are not only consistent, but continue to foster innovation.”