Biotechnology in the agriculture industry has been around for decades and has been regulated by the federal government since 1986. Agricultural biotechnology is a variety of tools utilized by farmers to manage and optimize production. With decades old biotechnology regulations and new approaches in gene editing (e.g., CRISPR) taking over the scientific community by storm and proving to be a powerful tool for the agriculture industry, the agencies have made multiple attempts to modernize the regulations of biotechnology within the past decade.
When Monsanto introduced dicamba-resistant soybeans for the first time, 200 dicamba spraying complaints were lodged in Missouri, with a host of aggravation for farmers, businessmen, and scientists on both sides of the issues. In fact, —a dicamba dispute between two Arkansas farmers even led to one farmer’s death and a murder indictment for the other. Farmers from Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have been deemed eligible to join a class-action lawsuit against Monsanto because of the alleged dicamba drift damage suffered byto their crops.
For those not well versed in science jargon, CRISPR-Cas is a genome-editing technology that allows the user to precisely cut out sections of DNA. Not surprisingly, scientific technology is moving faster than the gears of the political process can turn. The FDA and the USDA have realized that CRISPR is coming whether they are ready or not. But the agencies are going different directions on whether to regulate the organisms that undergo CRISPR alterations.
In 2016, Congress passed a law requiring labeling of bioengineered food products, more commonly known as Genetically Modified Organism or GMO food products. Many believe this mandatory labeling requirement is unconstitutional. The reason for this belief, surprisingly, derives from a 2015 Supreme Court case regarding road signage in Arizona.