» Society » Science Policy
- CAST PAPER: REGULATORY BARRIERS TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF INNOVATIVE AGRICULTURAL BIOTECHNOLOGY BY SMALL BUSINESSES AND UNIVERSITIES
This report examines the current U.S. regulatory system for genetically engineered (GE) crops, compares it with those of major trading partners, and considers the effects it has on agricultural biotechnology. Led by the Task Force Chair Alan McHughen, these experts show that despite foundational contributions requiring considerable public resource commitments for GE crop innovation and development, academic institutions and small private entities have been almost entirely excluded from the agricultural biotechnology market. Read the following documents associated with this report.
- LETTER TO SENATE URGING SUPPORT OF S.340
The National and Regional Weed Science Societies joined over one hundred fifty organizations in a letter to the Senate urging support of S. 340, the Sensible Environmental Protection Act of 2017. The bill provides a legislative fix for the duplicative NPDES permitting currently required for FIFRA-approved aquatic use herbicides. The letter can be downloaded from here.
- WEED SCIENCE SOCIETIES COMMENT ON APHIS REVISION OF ITS BIOTECHNOLOGY REGULATIONS
The National and Regional Weed Science Societies submitted comments on APHIS’s proposed rule regarding the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release of certain genetically engineered (GE) organisms. APHIS’s proposed revisions are in response to advances in genetic engineering and APHIS’s accumulated experience in implementing the current regulations. While we complimented APHIS on the many positive aspects of the proposal, we encouraged APHIS to re-propose a rule that minimizes regulatory uncertainty related to their weed risk assessment model.
- PALMER AMARANTH MANAGEMENT RECOMMENDATIONS IN CONSERVATION PROGRAMS
The following documents discuss Palmer amaranth management in CRP lands and associated systems.
- LETTER TO CONGRESS URGING SUPPORT OF H.R. 953
The National and Regional Weed Science Societies join over one hundred organizations in a letter to Congress urging support of H.R. 953, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act of 2017. The letter can be downloaded from here.
- CAST PAPER ON CROP PROTECTION CONTRIBUTIONS TOWARD AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY
The authors of this CAST Issue Paper examine the current plant protection revolution that is driven by the biological realities of pesticide resistance, various market forces, and real or perceived side effects of pesticides. They point out that “crop protection chemicals have been miraculous, but their automatic use is no longer efficacious or justifiable.” Led by Task Force Chair Susan T. Ratcliffe, the authors of this paper consider new technologies such as drones, smart sprayers, and specially designed cultivators–and they examine current biotech advancements such as CRISPR-Cas9 and other techniques that may fit well into integrated systems. They emphasize the need for research, communication, and collaboration as scientists “develop integrated strategies for managing pests while preserving ecosystem services and farm productivity.” The paper can be downloaded from here.
- WSSA COMMENTS ON TRIAZINE DRAFT ECOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT
Oct. 5, 2016. A number of concerns have been raised by various stakeholders relative to EPA’s draft ecological risk assessment for the triazines. These concerns include: errors in endpoint data and the water monitoring database; use of models that are not validated with field data; estimates of inflated hypothetical risks (e.g. atrazine applications resulting in 36% bird mortality) that have not been observed in over 55 years of atrazine use; use of data or findings not conducted in accordance with EPA’s scientific guidelines required under FIFRA; and ignoring the advice and findings of previous Science Advisory Panels on atrazine. The WSSA stresses the importance of addressing these concerns in order to maintain stakeholder confidence in the Agency’s science-based regulatory framework. However, our main concern, based on the current ecological draft risk assessment, is that atrazine and simazine would be restricted to less than 0.25 lbs a.i./A and 0.5 lbs a.i./A, respectively. At these low rates, atrazine and simazine would not provide efficacious weed control. In addition, using sub-lethal rates of atrazine or simazine is not an effective option for resistance management as it has been shown that this practice is likely to result in weeds with multiple-site or polygenic resistance which would make it more difficult to control these weeds. Comments are here.
- WSSA COMMENTS ON FIFRA SCIENCE ADVISORY PANEL (SAP) REVIEW OF GLYPHOSATE CARCINOGENICITY
Oct. 4, 2016. WSSA fully supports EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee’s (CARC) report on glyphosate (Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OPP-2016-0385-0014) and appreciates the scientific rigor and thoroughness of the CARC’s review of all available epidemiology and carcinogenicity studies. WSSA agrees with the CARC’s assessment that the few studies that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) selectively chose for its glyphosate review suffered from small sample sizes of cancer cases related to glyphosate exposure and had risk/odds ratios with large data variance beyond acceptable limits. Furthermore, WSSA feels that the IARC review process for glyphosate was flawed and represents a case of gross scientific negligence. There is no question that IARC arrived at their conclusion due to their inclusion of the positive findings from a selection of studies with known limitations, a lack of reproducible positive findings, and the omission of the negative findings from credible and reliable research. Finally, WSSA commented on the ongoing importance of glyphosate as a weed management tool and submitted information we developed surrounding some common misconceptions about glyphosate and herbicide resistance management. Comments are here.
- WEED SCIENCE SOCIETIES COMMENT ON EPA’S DRAFT GUIDANCE ON HERBICIDE RESISTANCE MANAGEMENT
Sept. 1, 2016. This summer EPA issued a Pesticide Registration Notice (PRN) that proposes an approach to address herbicide-resistant weeds by providing guidance on labeling, education, training, and stewardship for herbicides undergoing registration review or registration. The National and Regional Weed Science Societies recognize the critical need to protect all available weed management tools and are on record supporting proactive measures by EPA to combat the further evolution and spread of herbicide-resistant weeds. EPA’s proposal represents a significant change in how resistance is monitored, mitigated and communicated to weed management stakeholders. We consider this proposal a first iteration that will need adaptation and evolution as our experience with it grows and we hope the Agency has those same expectations. Comments are here.
- EPA MANUAL AVAILABLE ON HOW TO COMPLY WITH THE REVISED WORKER PROTECTION STANDARDS
The EPA in conjunction with the Pesticide Educational Resources Collaborative (PERC) has made available a guide to help users of agricultural pesticides comply with the requirements of the 2015 revised federal Worker Protection Standard (WPS). You should read this manual if you employ agricultural workers or handlers, are involved in the production of agricultural plants as an owner/manager of an agricultural establishment or a commercial (for-hire) pesticide handling establishment, or work as a crop advisor. The “How to Comply” manual includes:
• Details to help you determine if the WPS requirements apply to you
• Information on how to comply with the WPS requirements, including exceptions, restrictions, exemptions, options, and examples
• “Quick Reference Guide”- a list of the basic requirements (excluding exemptions, exceptions, etc.) new or revised definitions that may affect your WPS responsibilities, and
• Explanations to help you better understand the WPS requirements and how they may apply to you.
The revised EPA Pesticide Worker Protection Standard “How to Comply” Manual is available here.
- 2016-2018 NISC MANAGEMENT PLAN
The National Invasive Species Council (NISC) announced the release of their 2016-2018 Management Plan. The plan sets forth high priority, interdepartmental actions for the Federal government and its partners to take to prevent, eradicate, and control invasive species, as well as restore ecosystems and other assets adversely impacted by invasive species. The thirteen Federal Departments and Agencies whose senior officials comprise NISC will:• Provide Federal leadership on invasive species issues by establishing the structures, policy, and planning priorities necessary to enable Federal agencies to effectively prevent, eradicate, and/or control invasive species, as well as restore impacted ecosystems and other assets;
• Limit the spread and impact of invasive species through high-level policy and planning by strengthening coordination between the United States and other governments, across the Federal government, and between the Federal government and non-governmental stakeholders;
• Raise awareness of the invasive species issue and mobilize the policies, programs, and financial resources necessary to minimize the spread and impact of invasive species;
• Remove institutional and policy barriers to the Federal actions needed to prevent, eradicate, and control invasive species, as well as restore ecosystems and other assets;
• Conduct assessments of Federal capacities to meet the duties set forth in Executive Order 13112, as well as other high-level policy priorities, and build Federal capacities, as needed;
• Foster the scientific, technical, and programmatic innovation necessary to enable Federal agencies and their partners to prevent and mitigate the impacts of invasive species in a timely and cost-effective manner with negligible impacts to human and environmental health.
The 2016-2018 NISC Management Plan is available here.
- FHWA ROADSIDE REVEGETATION HANDBOOK WITH EMPHASIS ON POLLINATORS
In its first major update since 2007, the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) has expanded their roadside revegetation manual to include a major emphasis on pollinators. The handbook is now titled “Roadside Revegetation: An Integrated Approach to Establishing Native Plants and Pollinator Habitat”. With at least 17 million acres of roadsides in the U.S., roadside vegetation can serve as much needed habitat for pollinators, offering food, breeding, or nesting opportunities and connectivity that can aid pollinator dispersal. Roadside vegetation management influences how pollinators use roadsides, and even influences the number of pollinators killed by vehicles. For example, butterfly vehicle mortality rates increase with more frequent mowing and decrease with high plant diversity in roadside vegetation.
The publication is written specifically for the “designer,” those individuals or members of a road design team who will be directly involved in planning, implementing, monitoring, or maintaining a revegetation project. The first draft was released in September 2016 and is available here.
- LETTER SUPPORTING H.R. 897, THE ZIKA VECTOR CONTROL ACT
The National and Regional Weed Science Societies joined over 100 other organizations urging Congress to include H.R. 897, the Zika Vector Control Act (aka the NPDES-fix bill) in the final conference agreement that includes funding for the U.S. response to the Zika virus outbreak.
- USDA-ARS NP 304: CROP PROTECTION AND QUARANTINE 2015-2020 ACTION PLAN
Read the USDA-ARS action plan on national program 304 – crop protection and quarantine – for the years 2015-2010, which was just released. The primary goal of the program is to conduct research to create the knowledge base necessary to develop innovative control methods and IPM strategies and also conduct applied research to produce information and material products that improve pest and disease control in agriculture.
- PLANT SCIENCE SUMMIT ISSUES DECADAL VISION REPORT
On July 25 the Plant Science Research Summit released Unleashing a Decade of Innovation in Plant Science: A Vision for 2015-2025 (PDF), a call to action for the U.S. to address research priorities in plant science that could address major challenges including health, energy, food, and environmental sustainability. The report, supported by the American Society of Plant Biologists, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Energy, provides recommendations regarding future budgets and investments at the state and federal levels.
- REPORT – EVERY $1 INVESTED IN AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH RETURNS $10 WORTH OF BENEFITS TO THE ECONOMY
Over the last several decades, the U.S. agricultural sector has sustained impressive productivity growth. The Nation’s agricultural research system, including Federal-State public research as well as private-sector research, has been a key driver of this growth. Economic analysis finds strong and consistent evidence that investment in agricultural research has yielded high returns per dollar spent.
- WSSA REPORT – DETERMINATION OF THE POTENTIAL IMPACT FROM THE RELEASE OF GLYPHOSATE- AND GLUFOSINATE-RESISTANT AGROSTIS STOLONIFERA L. IN VARIOUS CROPS AND NON-CROP ECOSYSTEMS
The Weed Science Society of America (WSSA) was asked by the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to perform an analysis of the weed management implications associated with the potential deregulation and commercialization of glyphosate and glufosinate-resistant creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.) varieties. This analysis is needed to determine the current and potential significance of creeping bentgrass, and other species with which it can hybridize (several other Agrostis spp. and Polypogon spp.), as weeds in managed and non-managed ecosystems in the United States. The analysis deliberately focused exclusively on the weed management implications of the potential release of these creeping bentgrass varieties and did not attempt to assess other associated environmental and economic considerations. The Weed Science Society of America does not endorse or oppose the proposed deregulation of glyphosate- or glufosinate-creeping bentgrass. The information contained in this report does not represent a position for or against the technology and should not be interpreted as such. This work was done at the request of USDA/APHIS to provide science-based information for their use as a regulatory agency.