Speedy reviews for genetically-modified crops

USDA Says Rule Changes to Hasten Modified Crop Approvals

By Jack Kaskey – Feb 22, 2012 2:25 PM PT
 

Seed 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.”  More…

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