WASHINGTON - In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s withdrawal of its proposed rule to overhaul federal regulation on biotechnology and plant breeding innovations like gene editing, American Soybean Association (ASA) President and Illinois farmer Ron Moore issued the following statement:

“USDA’s withdrawal of the proposed rule is both a positive and a negative for soybean farmers. On the plus side, there were a considerable number of aspects about the rule that would have stifled innovation and created additional regulatory uncertainty and ambiguity. So we’re happy that USDA recognized the flaws in portions of the proposed rule and has taken it back to square one so that those may be remedied.

“We appreciate that the proposed rule addressed gene editing techniques and we hope that, however USDA opts to move forward with rulemaking, they will maintain a positive focus on these new technologies. Specifically, we hope that USDA will continue to recognize that new plant breeding innovations are distinct from and do not fall under the same USDA regulatory review process as transgenic biotechnology.

“More generally, there is a benefit to creating smarter and more practical regulatory frameworks with all stakeholders at the table. It is important to foster trust in agricultural technologies on the part of customers abroad and consumers at home. In this regard, we do not want the withdrawal of the rule to lengthen the existing lag between efforts to craft smarter regulations for new technologies and the need to convince consumers of their benefits, both at home and abroad.

“We hope that USDA will move forward to work with stakeholders to develop new science-based regulations that promote agricultural innovation and to foster confidence in new agricultural technologies on the part of all concerned.”