USDA Under Secretary Questions Restraint on Gene Editing for Organic Certification


According to a USDA release, Greg Ibach USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs has questioned whether gene-editing, applying new technology including CRISPR-cas9 should be considered for products marketed under the USDA Certified Organic Seal. As a previous Director of Agriculture for the State of Nebraska, Ibach is an advocate for technological innovation to increase productivity. This proposal was advanced during the 95th Annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in February in the Innovation in Agriculture session.


Gene deletion can rapidly produce cultivars resistant to drought, pests and virus infections. Gene deletion does not introduce DNA from other species. Regrettably rules relating to organic products are determined by the Organic Standards Board.  Many of the members of this statutory body developing regulations, adhere to a concept of “returning to nature,” eschewing modern technology.  The Organic Standards Board has even attempted to ban vaccines derived by gene deletion but approved by USDA.  These products protect flocks and herds from foodborne diseases including Salmonella infection which is a significant component of consumer acceptability.


EGG-NEWS is an advocate of proven, beneficial but safe technology in order to enhance productivity to feed burgeoning populations.  Under Secretary Ibach is to be complemented on his forward thinking and leadership.