USDA has no plans to regulate new plant breeding techniques

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In Washington, D.C., U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue issued a statement providing clarification on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s oversight of plants produced through innovative new breeding techniques like genome editing.

USDA does not regulate or have any plans to regulate plants that could otherwise have been developed through traditional breeding techniques as long as they are not plant pests or developed using plant pests. This includes a set of techniques that are increasingly being used by plant breeders to produce new plant varieties that are indistinguishable from those developed through traditional breeding methods. The newest of these methods, such as genome editing, expand traditional plant breeding tools because they can introduce new plant traits more quickly and precisely, potentially saving years or even decades in bringing needed new varieties to farmers.

“With this approach, USDA seeks to allow innovation when there is no risk present,” said Secretary Perdue.