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Trump Administration Proposes Easing Rules on Genetically Engineered Crops

The Trump administration would exempt many new genetically engineered crops from regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under a broad overhaul of biotechnology rules announced on Wednesday.

The overhaul, which the department said would cut the cost of developing genetically engineered plants, would exempt crops with traits “similar in kind” to modifications that could be produced through traditional breeding techniques. Developers would be allowed to make a “self-determination” that their products are exempt from regulation.

The administration argues the approach will allow regulators to focus on "increasingly complex products which, in turn, may pose new types of risks.”

The USDA estimates the proposal would save developers an average of $3.6 million for each new genetically engineered crop, if the product isn’t also regulated by the Food & Drug Administration or Environmental Protection Agency. If another government agency also regulates the plant, the average savings would drop to $730,000.

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