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Kaskey reports: "The Center for Food Safety, a Washington-based non-profit group that has successfully challenged approvals of Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar-beet and alfalfa crops, said the rule change is aimed at preventing opponents of modified crops from voicing criticism of the agency's methods."

New GM crops, like these Monsanto-made soybean seeds, are getting an added boost through the approval process. (photo: GMOBeat)
New GM crops, like these Monsanto-made soybean seeds, are getting an added boost through the approval process. (photo: GMOBeat)

USDA Rule Changes to Hasten GMO Crop Approvals

By Jack Kaskey, Bloomberg News

23 February 12


eed companies including Monsanto Co. (MON), the world’s largest, will get speedier regulatory reviews of their genetically modified crops under forthcoming rule changes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The goal is to cut by half the time needed to approve biotech crops from the current average of three years, Michael Gregoire, a USDA deputy administrator, said today in a telephone interview. The changes will take effect when they’re published in the Federal Register, probably in March, he said.

Approvals that took six months in the 1990s have lengthened because of increased public interest, more legal challenges and the advent of national organic food standards, Gregoire said. U.S. farmers worry they may be disadvantaged as countries such as Brazil approve new technologies faster, said Steve Censky, chief executive officer of the American Soybean Association.

"It is a concern from a competition standpoint," Censky said in a telephone interview.

Faster approvals also benefit seed developers by allowing them to profit from new products sooner, Jeff Windau, a St. Louis-based analyst at Edward Jones & Co., said in a telephone interview. The financial benefit is difficult to estimate until the new rules are in place, he said.

"If you can reduce the approval time, you get sales that much faster," said Windau, who rates Monsanto "hold" and DuPont Co. (DD) "buy." "It could be significant for the companies like Monsanto and DuPont."

Faster Approvals

One way the USDA plans to speed up approvals is by inviting public comments as soon as seed developers such as Monsanto file a complete petition for deregulation of a biotech crop, rather than waiting until the end of the review, Gregoire said. That will allow regulators at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, to address any concerns as they conduct their environmental analysis and risk assessment, he said.

"We can improve the quality of decisions by providing for this earlier public input in the process," Gregoire said. "We are not sacrificing quality at all."

Congress is helping to speed crop reviews by increasing APHIS’s budget for biotech regulation to a record $18 million this year, from $13 million in 2011, Gregoire said.

The Center for Food Safety, a Washington-based non-profit group that has successfully challenged approvals of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready sugar-beet and alfalfa crops, said the rule change is aimed at preventing opponents of modified crops from voicing criticism of the agency’s methods.

Working the System

"They are trying to work the system so they can dismiss public comments more quickly and easily in order to speed things up," Bill Freese, a policy analyst at the group, said in a telephone interview. "It’s a rubber-stamp system. A real regulatory system will occasionally reject something."

Under the rule changes, new versions of existing crop technologies, such as corn that produces a naturally occurring pesticide, would undergo a review lasting about 13 months, Gregoire said. That would be accomplished by making the agency’s determination final after a 30-day public review period, he said.

For new technologies, such as a crops engineered to tolerate a new herbicide, there will be a second comment period after the agency makes its preliminary decision, extending the duration of the review to about 16 months, he said.

Which of these two regulatory routes is taken for each of the 22 biotech crops currently under review will be announced along with the publication of the rule change, Gregoire said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jack Kaskey in Houston at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Casey at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it your social media marketing partner


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+37 # RMDC 2012-02-23 17:15
The USDA is of course a federal agency that has been captured by Monsanto and a few other Ag corporations. It certainly does not work for the American people. If food products made from genetically modified crops, animals, fish, or anything were clearly labeled, very few people would buy them. In other words, if these Frankenfoods had to compete in a "free" market, they would massively fail. We don't want them. The USDA knows that, so it now is trying to make our protests even more ineffective.

USDA to American people -- "shut up and eat the crap being sold to you. There's money at stake here. Don't you understand that. Now eat more."
+15 # GF4A 2012-02-24 08:47
As usual, the agencies sworn to protect the American people are protecting the greed of the GMO seed producers.

+16 # rsnfan 2012-02-24 00:33
From what I read on GMOs and Monsanto, et al. the US must be the only country on the face of the earth that does not care about its people.
+13 # Majikman 2012-02-24 01:12
I stopped eating tuna with mercury years ago, then farm raised fish, then gulf shrimp until the only fish I felt was safe was wild caught Alaska salmon or halibut. I stopped eating processed non-organic food, then dairy & poultry raised on hormones or antibiotics, then non-organic produce. My local water is "fluorided" so I lug jugs of water from a friend's well for drinking.
If I don't grow it or buy it from my local farmer or fisherman I don't eat it.
Years ago I read about researchers who had raised rats on a 100% nutritionally complete diet. The trick was that the "food" was synthetic. By the 3rd generation all the rats were sterile.
When one's food supply becomes a source of terror, the game's over.
+3 # redjelly39 2012-02-24 01:22
"Brawndo the Thirst Mutilator" - if you dont know what I am referring to - watch the movie Idiocracy.
+9 # Valleyboy 2012-02-24 04:32
Sounds like Michael Taylor's still hard at work serving Monsanto while being paid to protect the taxpayer, by the taxpayer.
I'd say he should, for a start, give all that money back. I won't say what else he should do, for fear of offending people!
+10 # tedrey 2012-02-24 05:36
Brazil is poisoning its people faster than we are; we've got to hurry up and close that gap. Has anyone noticed that the profit motive, always amoral, has become absolutely insane!
+12 # Andrew Hansen 2012-02-24 07:25
USDA to Monsanto: Speedier review and make more money.

USDA to people: Unless you have a few billion dollars, STFU.

What a perverted gov of/by/for the people. Competition between two corporate behemoths (and mammothly bad actors at that) drives home a ruling that is uniformly bad for people. I guess that is what the plutocracy means by personal responsibility.
+4 # Andrew Hansen 2012-02-24 07:27
RMDC, we must be on the same wavelength. Just saw your post pop with almost exactly the same language.
+5 # Windy126 2012-02-24 16:39
I think the key words are " we can dismiss peoples comments faster". Not work to resolve the comments, dismiss them. We have no idea what all these chemicals are doing to us and we will be dead before it is known. Ever wonder why the kids today have so many behavioral problems? Why is autism so prevalent now? Look at what our kids are eating. Pop Tarts for breakfast.
not eating enough give them a chemical cocktail for added nutrition. Why not we try to force it down our seniors as a supplement. Ever even smell the stuff? It even smells nasty.
Neonictinoids, clothianidin and it's precursor thiamethoxam which are put on corn,soybeans seeds have been proven in a report from Purdue University as the cause of death for hives of honey bees. Scratch the only food that does not spoil, honey. But them we are supposed to eat High Fructose Corn syrup instead.The ads infer that is the same as sugar. Well, about 10 years ago I began to have extreme pain in my hands, wrist, elbows and shoulders. No OTC pain relievers would help. Then I was told to avoid corn. I have and have had no pain. But I can tell when I have not read all the ingredients well. Any time I don't pay attention the pain comes back. Let's just push more chemicals on the population. We won't have to worry about terrorists the chemical companies will kill us first
+3 # Capn Canard 2012-02-25 08:47
Windy126, AMEN! Those persistent chemicals are the bane of American agriculture practices! The chemical plastics revolution of DuPont et al

We need PERMACULTURAL practices to be adopted by every city neighborhood in America. Screw agribusiness: grow your own food.
+1 # GF4A 2012-02-26 06:46
WINDY -- you are RIGHT ON! Look at stuff like NutraSweet!


That stuff is LITERALLY p-o-i-s-o-n but it's in everything! Guess who's got their hands in that? MONSANTO!

We are at a critical juncture with food.

Unless, WE THE PEOPLE really get involved and get in the USDA and FDA's face about the crap they are approving as 'food', we're all dead!

Dow is currently wanting approval of 2-4-D tolerant corn. We're on a friggin' chemical treadmill with this stuff! More poison in our soil, more poison in the water, more cancer - and like Windy said: more so-called mental diseases which probably ARE the result of chemical poisoning in-utero. I gress with Windy that many of these diseases we are seeing now HAVE TO BE the result of GMOs and the poisons in our enviromnent.


Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta and others should be sued for poisoning this planet and killing its people. They've alread been brought to take in France and India but here in the US? Nooooooooo! That's because our government is owned by biotech and has buddies like BILL GATES promoting 'feeding the world' thru GMOs and donating millions to Monsanto!

+2 # acermay 2012-02-24 22:48
1) find out who Vilsack is
2) look at his profesional bio
3) look who appointed him
4) sad, isnt it

the concerned farmer
+3 # Capn Canard 2012-02-25 08:38
It isn't surprising that the USDA would favor the corporate whores over real people. The food sources will be f*cked up until we can get widespread perma-cultural practices set up in every neighborhood. i.e. we need to decentralize food production and create localized food sources that are not DEPENDENT ON OIL AND FOSSIL FUELS, and we need to prosectue the CRIMINAL AGRIBUSINESS and the CRIMINAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM. The corruption runs so deep it is hard to see the bottom...

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