Will Biden ‘Listen to the Science’ on GMOs?
“Listen to the science” was an oft-heard riposte in political debates about how the government should respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. While Donald Trump’s administration failed on that front, it did “listen to the science” last May, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) streamlined some of its outdated and scientifically unwarranted regulations of modern biotech crops. Will President Joe Biden stay the course?
This is not a niche issue. Since the 1980s, biotech crop varieties have been engineered with new genetic traits that enable them to resist diseases, insect pests, and herbicides. Today, 94 percent of all soybeans, 83 percent of corn, and 95 percent of sugar beets grown in the U.S. are biotech varieties.
At the dawn of genetic engineering, the USDA contorted its regulations to assert a right to review new biotech crops before they could be offered to farmers. For 30 years, the department individually evaluated each new bioengineered (B.E.) crop variety, even though the department had determined numerous times that the same genetic traits in previously approved varieties were safe for consumers and the environment.
In May 2020, the USDA issued its final Sustainable, Ecological, Consistent, Uniform, Responsible, Efficient (SECURE) rule. Under SECURE, an engineered crop variety
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