Grassley Questions USTR Nominee on Biotech Barriers Facing U.S. Crops Print
News Releases - Agribusiness
Written by Grassley Press   
Friday, 07 June 2013 07:40

Follow up to May 7 letter to USDA, USTR

WASHINGTON – JUNE 6, 2013 – Senator Chuck Grassley is asking the nominee to be the next U.S. Trade Representative, Michael Froman, for his thoughts on making it a higher priority when negotiating with U.S. trading partners to resolve the regulatory barriers facing biotech seeds.

Grassley’s written questions are a follow-up to a letter he wrote with Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and 24 other senators about the need for the administration to engage U.S. trading partners in high-level discussions on breaking down barriers to biotechnology.  Grassley was not able to attend the entire nomination hearing in person, so he is asking his questions in writing to be answered for the hearing record.

“American farmers have adopted biotechnology seeds to increase production as they help feed this world.  They need to be able to get their products to market, and they need to have the confidence they can adopt the technology available to them without fear our trading partners will erect barriers,” Grassley said.

Here is the text of Grassley’s questions on the subject.

o   How does USTR intend to work with trading partners to improve market access for U.S. crops derived from biotechnology?

o   In regards specifically to the European Union, can you commit to me that if the United States and European Union move forward with a formal trade agreement negotiation, USTR will work to remove the regulatory barriers to U.S. biotechnology derived seeds?

Here is a copy of the text of the May 7 letter.  A signed copy of the letter can be found by clicking here.

 

May 7, 2013

Secretary Thomas Vilsack

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20250

 

Ambassador Demetrios Marantis

Acting United States Trade Representative

600 17th Street NW

Washington, DC 20508

 

Dear Secretary Vilsack and Ambassador Marantis:

American agriculture has made significant advancements in the last 100 years. We have seen vast improvements in how farmers grow crops, raise livestock, manage risk, and conduct their operations. American farmers are constantly looking for new tools to maximize efficiencies and productivity.  Biotechnology has been one of these tools.  Biotechnology helps farmers better manage droughts, pests, and weeds with fewer resources.  Biotechnology provides a major boost to American farmers that face an increasingly competitive international market.  Biotechnology has also helped feed a growing world population with abundant, nutrient rich crops.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that as much as 90 percent of commodity crop acres utilize seeds improved through modern biotechnology. Trade disruptions caused by barriers to biotechnology derived crops hurt both American farmers and the international customers they serve. Regulatory asynchrony, zero tolerance policies, and re-registration requirements are among the most prevalent and costly regulatory hurdles.

We know and appreciate how both of you and your offices have given priority to these international regulatory challenges, and work extensively with our trading partners to find long term solutions.  For instance, USDA has been engaged in efforts to launch a pilot project with China which aims to address, bilaterally, some asynchrony issues.  We also understand that the U.S. government is engaging trading partners in multilateral efforts to discuss how to best address other critical issues, including unintended low-level presence.

Given the widespread adoption of biotechnology by American farmers, it is imperative you further raise the priority of these regulatory issues in discussions with our trading partners, emphasizing the importance of facilitating robust international trade.  We appreciate your attention to this important matter, and we look forward to working with you to address these important and complex issues.

Sincerely,