Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (BRAG)

The purpose of the BRAG program is to support the generation of new information that will assist Federal regulatory agencies in making science-based decisions about the effects of introducing into the environment genetically engineered organisms (GE), including plants, microorganisms — such as fungi, bacteria, and viruses — arthropods, fish, birds, mammals and other animals excluding humans. Investigations of effects on both managed and natural environments are relevant. The BRAG program accomplishes its purpose by providing federal regulatory agencies with scientific information relevant to regulatory issues. See the Request for Applications for details. Continue reading

NIFA to Invest in Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced a competitive opportunity to conduct research on the environmental effects of genetically engineered (GE) organisms, including plants, animals, insects, and microorganisms. The $3.5 million in grants is available through NIFA’s Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants (BRAG) Program.

The BRAG program supports applied and fundamental research to help federal regulators evaluate the effects of GE organisms on their environment. Proposals are solicited to support standard research projects or conference proposals that bring together stakeholders to discuss and evaluate science-based data relevant to environmental risk assessments or risk management related to biotechnology-developed organisms. Continue reading

FDA, USDA, and EPA to Hold Public Sessions on Agricultural Biotechnology

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs will be holding two public meetings to discuss FDA’s Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. This initiative calls for FDA to work with EPA and USDA to provide education and outreach to the public on agricultural biotechnology and food and animal feed ingredients derived from biotechnology. The purpose of the meetings is to provide the public an opportunity to share information, experiences, and suggestions to help inform the development of this education and outreach initiative.

The FDA is also accepting public comments on questions listed in the Federal Register Notice. Comments may be submitted through November 17, 2017. Continue reading

Biotechnology Regulation Framework and Modernization Strategy Available

The White House has posted a blog unveiling the final Update to the Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology as well as information on the National Strategy for Modernizing the Regulatory System for Biotechnology Products. View the blog announcing these documents.

The White House released the national strategy and draft update of the coordinated framework in September 2016 as part of the Administration’s continuing effort to modernize the federal regulatory system for biotechnology products as well as to clarify various roles of the Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and Department of Agriculture in evaluating new biotechnologies. Continue reading

GMO crops are better for environment, farmers say

In Southwest Farm Press

Most U.S. farmers and ranchers believe biotechnology and genetically-modified crops increase crop production efficiency and agricultural sustainability, according to survey results from a poll conducted by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance (USFRA) and the National Corn Growers Association.

The survey of 280-plus U.S. farmers gleaned their thoughts on the value of GMO crops. They weighed in on the impact of GMO technology on the environment, yields, pesticide use, and other issues. Continue reading

Nanostructured Biosensors Detect Pesticide, Help Preserve Environment

By Selina Meiners, NIFA

When does too much of a good thing become a bad thing? That’s the question Dr. Jonathan Claussen, assistant professor at Iowa State University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his team of researchers aim to help farmers answer when it comes to pesticide use. Underuse can harm farmers’ crops, while overuse can result in runoff into the soil or waterways.

Claussen and his team created a flexible, low cost and disposable biosensor that can detect pesticides in soil. This biosensor is made of graphene, a strong and stable nanoparticle, and provides instantaneous feedback, as opposed to the time and money it would otherwise take to send a sample to a lab and await results.

NIFA supported the project with an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) grant as part of the Nanotechnology Program.

Rebroadcast of Public Symposium on Regulation of Plant-Incorporated Protectants – Register for November 18, 2016, Webinar

In September 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency held a public symposium on data that support registration of plant incorporated protectants (PIPs). The information from that symposium will be rebroadcast as a webinar on Thursday, November 18, 2016, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The symposium provided a forum for PIP developers, the agricultural sector and the general public to get information firsthand on the scope of the scientific review process that determines the safety of PIPs and on the pesticide registration process as a whole. The majority of PIPs registered in the past 20-plus years use insecticidal traits of bacterial proteins to enhance the plant’s resistance to insect herbivores. EPA, FDA and USDA representatives gave an overview of the regulatory system that applies to biotechnology in the United States in the context of the Coordinated Framework for Regulation of Biotechnology. Continue reading