The U.S. has joined a dozen other World Trade Organization countries to support policies that enable agricultural innovation, including genome editing. The policies were laid out in the International Statement on Agricultural Applications of Precision Biotechnology, which was released last week in Geneva by the WTO Committee on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. “These tools can play a critical role in helping farmers address many of the production challenges they face while improving the quality and nutritional value of foods available to consumers worldwide,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said in a statement. “Unfortunately, such technologies too often face regulatory roadblocks that are based on misinformation and political posturing.” Perdue said it was gratifying to see the signatory nations come together under the WTO umbrella “to publicly embrace science-based regulatory systems that will allow us to unlock the huge potential of these new technologies.” Besides the U.S., countries and organizations supporting the statement, to date, are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Paraguay, Uruguay, Vietnam and the Secretariat of the Economic Community of West African States. The U.S. State Dept., along with industry groups and private companies, also applauded the move. “We are pleased to note WTO comments that indicate a willingness to coordinate regulatory frameworks around the globe to ensure that they are scientifically based and focused, first and foremost, on food safety. We applaud this effort for the strong message it sends that governments intend to cooperate to embrace science and risk-based policies,” said Emily Metz, Director of Corporate Communications, Genus plc.

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