ASA Positions

  • Biotechnology is an essential tool in farmers’ quest to produce enough food to meet the needs of 9.7 billion people by 2050, while placing less of a strain on our natural resources.
  • Farmers need a timely, efficient and science-based approvals process for new biotech traits, both domestically at USDA and EPA, and in each of our export markets.
  • A global low-level presence policy that would enable importing countries to accept shipments with trace amounts of a trait they have not yet approved, which is necessary to facilitate trade and innovation domestically as well as internationally.
  • The EU continues to demonstrate inefficiencies in their approval of biotech traits. Their delay stands in the way of the productivity of American farmers.
  • China is by far the most important buyer of U.S. soy, but the arbitrary and unreliable Chinese biotech approval system prevents U.S. farmers from adopting new technologies needed to increase yields, fight pests and weeds, enhance quality, and improve environmental performance.
  • ASA’s longstanding policy is that technology companies must wait to commercialize new traits until they are approved in our major export markets in order to reduce the potential for rejection of shipments if traces of unapproved traits are detected.
  • The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard provides consumers with the information they want while avoiding stigmatizing safe and sustainable GMO technology.
  • ASA is working with USDA and our coalition partners to ensure that the rule implementing the law will provide factual and non-disparaging information on GMOs to consumers.
  • ASA is working with USDA-APHIS as the federal government decides how to classify and whether to regulate the new generation of plant breeding innovations (PBIs) like gene editing, CRISPR-Cas9, cisgenics and others.
  • It is important to note that these technologies are different from biotechnology, where genes are transferred between species.  Rather, they represent an evolution in conventional plant breeding, where precise changes are made within the same species.
  • ASA is working to ensure that pre-market approvals will not be required for these new technologies, as they are for biotech products.

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Learn more about biotechnology from the Biotechnology Industry Organization.


Learn more about Seed Innovation here allows consumers to research and verify the safety, prevalence and benefits of genetically modified food ingredients by visiting online information posted by credible and independent sources, including governmental food safety agencies, medical and health organizations, news organizations, food safety experts and non-governmental organizations.

Issues Background

Biotech Food Labeling Standards

In previous years, anti-biotech activists pushed state governments to create mandatory biotech labeling laws which would have resulted in a patchwork of standards that was both burdensome to the food companies and costly to the consumer. In addition, imposing conflicting food labeling requirements in different states would have meant a GMO disclosure label could mean different things across the country.

ASA and other biotech supporters in the Coalition for Safe Affordable Food (CFSAF) launched a major grassroots effort and worked with Congress to set a uniform national standard that would preempt state laws and give more information to the consumer on biotech ingredients. Public Law 114-216, the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, was passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed into law on July 29, 2016. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 63-30 and the House subsequently passed the bill by a vote of 306-117. By creating a uniform national standard, the law ensures that the information on biotech ingredients in food is reliable and means the same thing regardless of the state in which it’s purchased.

The National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard requires mandatory disclosure of bioengineered food in accordance with regulations that are to be promulgated by USDA and finalized by July 2018. Disclosure options for labeling  include the use of text, symbols, or electronic/digital links with other allowances for small food manufacturers. The law defines bioengineering as:

SEC.  291.  DEFINITIONS.  ‘‘In  this  subtitle:  ‘‘(1)  BIOENGINEERING.—The  term ‘bioengineering’, and any similar term, as determined by the Secretary, with respect to a food, refers to a food— ‘‘(A) that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) techniques; and ‘‘(B) for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.)

USDA is expected to issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) in the coming months, giving ASA and other stakeholders the opportunity to engage USDA in a variety of issues involved in the rulemaking process. We will continue to work with USDA and other stakeholders throughout the rulemaking and implementation.

Reform of Biotech Regulations

New biotech traits are regulated and approved under the Coordinated Framework developed in the 1980’s by USDA/APHIS, EPA and FDA.  Each agency is responsible for reviewing new traits under different pre-existing laws.  Some 30 years later, on January 19, 2017 APHIS proposed a new rule to reform Part 340 of the Plant Protection Act to with the intent of expediting reviews of traits that have already been approved for other crops. The comment period ends on June 19, 2017. On the same day, FDA published a Request for Information (RFI) on the regulation of gene-edited plants which asks questions of the public about risks from gene edited plants and plant breeding innovations. FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) published another proposal that expands their scope to include regulation of gene-edited animals, which is inconsistent with the scope of Part 340 Proposed Rule for plants. The comment period for the documents from the FDA end on April 19, 2017.

ASA is working with other farm and industry organizations to review these proposals and their impact on soybean producers and to ensure that any changes in the U.S. regulatory system for biotechnology do not send the wrong signals to governments in countries that import our crops, which we have been urging to adopt our current approval process as a model.  We have asked that the comment periods for the FDA proposals be extended to match APHIS’s June 19th deadline in order to take a coordinated approach to reviewing and commenting on the proposals.

Download ASA Position Paper on Biotechnology
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