13 June 2019
U.S. Targets Foreign Trade Barriers to Agricultural Biotechnology Products
President Trump issued an executive order on 11 June intended to increase U.S. use of new and innovative biotechnologies. The EO includes a domestic strategy that encourages the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency to work together to streamline regulations, including by developing a web-based platform that links to relevant U.S. government regulatory information.
The EO repeatedly emphasises the benefits of biotechnology, noting that in order to realise these benefits the United States must employ a science-based regulatory system that “evaluates products based on human health and safety and potential benefits and risks to the environment.” Such a system “must both foster public confidence in biotechnology and avoid undue regulatory burdens.”
The EO also provides for the development of an international communications and outreach strategy to facilitate engagement abroad with policymakers, consumers, industry and other stakeholders. This strategy is aimed at increasing international acceptance of products of agricultural biotechnology in order to open and maintain markets for U.S. agricultural exports abroad. At the same time, USTR has been tasked with developing an international trade strategy to remove unjustified trade barriers and expand markets for products of agricultural biotechnology. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has vowed to convene the Trade Policy Staff Committee as soon as possible to develop such a strategy.