USA revising rules on GMOs

The USA is revising its rules on the import, transport and release of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in its first comprehensive revision of these regulations since they were established in 1987.

In a proposal announced on 6 June, the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said the review aimed to reduce the regulatory burden to reflect advances in genetic engineering (GE) and better understanding of plant pest risks.

“The approach we are proposing would differ from the current framework in that regulatory efforts would focus on the properties of the GE organism itself rather than on the method used to produce it,” APHIS said.

“GE organisms that pose a plant pest risk would fall within the scope of the proposed regulations and require permits for movement.”

Plant pest risk was defined as “the possibility of harm resulting from introducing, disseminating, or exacerbating the impact of a plant pest”.

Other GE non-plant organisms that did not pose a plant pest risk would not require permits for movement.

Certain categories of modified plants would also be exempt from regulation because they could be produced through traditional breeding techniques and thus were unlikely to pose a greater plant pest risk than traditionally bred crops,” APHIS said.

The agency said the deadline for comments on the proposed rule would be 5 August.