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Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Republican Leader Jim Baird Joint Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Hearing

Good morning. Thank you Chairman Costa and Chair Plaskett for calling this hearing today. I appreciate our friends from the Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee joining us for this discussion, and I am very excited for our Subcommittees to have the opportunity to discuss this incredibly important topic.

I want to also thank our witnesses for joining us today for this dialogue – I look forward to hearing from each of you about the extensive work and research you’ve done in this field, your vision for the future of biotechnology, and how we can better serve and improve this technology moving forward.

From my perspective, biotechnology is the future of agriculture and the future of food security for our changing planet. It has the ability to reshape the direction of our industry and our world as we strive to advance the sustainability of agriculture, improve animal health and wellbeing, and plays a key role in our efforts to feed, clothe, and fuel an ever-growing planet. 

However, this can only be the case if we are able to take advantage of this technology and we allow innovation to happen. Unfortunately, what we have seen to date, parts of our regulatory system simply don’t work for the products of this technology. Our current regulatory frameworks around biotechnology for animals in particular has proven to be a broken processes that stifles innovation, stymes growth, and hinders the opportunity for technology to vastly improve global agriculture.

I look forward to our conversation this morning between our guests and colleagues and truly hope that this hearing is a fruitful exercise in guiding future debate, legislation, and regulatory changes.

I value this as an opportunity to hear directly from industry and academia about our current regulatory framework –how this system does or doesn’t work, and how we can balance what industry needs to make this technology successful against an important need for consumer trust and confidence.

I hope to hear about upcoming changes to these regulatory frames works and what benefits and challenges they may bring to the industry. Rulemakings like the SECURE Rule, the Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard, and rulemakings on the horizon like FDA’s Guidance on Gene Edited Plants, EPA’s PIP Rule, and USDA’s ANPR on Animal Biotechnology that Ms. Plaskett and I recently to USDA encouraging all have tremendous opportunity to reshape the industry, and I look forward to hearing directly from out stakeholders today to what extent.

So far in the commercial life of these products, inter-agency cooperation has had a tremendous impact on the success or lack thereof for biotech products. I hope that our witnesses today will share with us their experiences and thoughts regarding this cooperation and how this process can be improved.

As we continue to work domestically on how best to bring current and future biotech advancements to market, it is tremendously important that we also keep an eye on and actively participate in how our trade partners – particularly those with large impacts on the demand for U.S. ag products – advance their own regulations of these products. We must continue to ensure that these partners continue to regulate on a basis of science and risk, not speculation and fear; and ultimately ensure that we don’t inadvertently innovate ourselves out of the global marketplace.

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I have a real passion for agriculture and for better understanding the opportunity that surrounds innovation and technology in our industry.  At a time where technology continues to quickly advance, our policy must be able to keep up in an effort to ensure safety, transparency, and fairness in market access.

I truly hope that today’s conversation will shed additional light on what this policy should look like in an ideal world. I look forward to today’s conversation and really appreciate the opportunity to engage and to hear from such talented stakeholders.

Thank you all again. And with that, Mr. Chairman, I yield back.