USDA Announces Move of Animal Biotechnology Regulation from the FDA

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Monday a proposal to move the animal biotechnology regulations to the USDA in what the press release called a “significant step in modernizing regulations of agricultural animals modified or produced by genetic engineering.” 

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said “our livestock producers need all the tools in the toolbox to help protect against animal diseases and continue to meet the challenge of feeding everyone now and into the future. If we do not put these safe biotechnology advances to work here at home, our competitors in other nations will.” Perdue said advances in biotechnology could “enhance rural prosperity” and improve the quality of life across the country. He explained that the department will use an approach based on science and potential risks. 

The USDA also announced an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as a way to allow public input on the proposed framework. The rule would transition biotechnology regulatory oversight from the Food and Drug Administration to the USDA, and would provide for the USDA to consult with the FDA to include the department in considering various measures. The press release said the “USDA looks forward to FDA experts participating in the development of our review process. Among other things, this measure covers molecular characterization, animal health, food storage, and processing. 

Rep. K. Michael Conaway (R-Tex.) on the Agriculture committee of the House of Representatives said in a press release,  “today’s announcement marks a positive step towards ensuring that the United States will continue to be a global leader in scientific advancements in biotechnology and that our livestock producers will have the tools they need to prevent animal diseases. Secretary Perdue’s new science-based rulemaking process will solicit public input, and evaluate new regulations based on the potential risk to animal and livestock health, food safety, and the environment. This is terrific news for the future of American agricultural innovation.”

Monday’s announcement follows an Executive Order signed by President Donald Trump in June 2019 calling for modernizing the agricultural biotechnology framework.