New SECURE Rule Updates Biotech Regulations

Brian German Agri-Business, Regulation

SECURE rule - biotechnology

The Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient rule, known as the SECURE rule, provides updated guidelines for biotechnology regulated under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection Act.  The new rule has reportedly eliminated outdated processes in the regulatory system to allow for more efficient development of biotech crops.

“USDA is implementing the first significant update to our plant biotechnology regulations in more than three decades,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a news release. “USDA’s SECURE rule will streamline and modernize our regulatory system, facilitate science-based innovations, and provide our farmers with the tools they need to produce the world’s safest, most abundant, and most affordable food supply, which will help us continue to Do Right and Feed Everyone – safely.”

The SECURE rule shifts focus from regulating plants by their development, to exempt some genetically engineered plants that could have been developed through traditional means.  USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will now base its evaluation on a new process that will only regulate plants that present a plausible plant pest risk.

Several agricultural groups have issued statements in support of the new guidelines, including the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), National Sorghum Producers, American Seed Trade Association, and the National Council of Farmers Cooperatives. “At a time when agriculture is facing many economic headwinds, the science-based rule provides the opportunity to solve current and future challenges for agricultural production and food security,” AFBF President Zippy Duvall said in a press release.

The rules governing biotechnology were originally published in 1987 and have not been revised since their inception.  The revised proposed rule was initially published in June 2019, with the final rule being entered in the Federal Register on May 18. Provisions of the new rule will be implemented on specific dates over the course of the next 18 months.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West