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Deregulate the process for developing GMO crops for fuel, fiber

To our U.S. Representatives:

We, the undersigned University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences graduate students, are requesting that you, our U.S. representatives, co-author a bipartisan bill to deregulate the process for developing genetically modified crops that have the potential to produce sustainable sources of fiber and fuel (not food).

If the costs associated with the regulatory approval process for transgenic and cisgenic crop improvement approaches were between $5,000 and $10,000, rather than between $20 million and $30 million as they currently are, according to a 2003 article in the journal Nature Biotechnology, researchers would not face an impossible cost barrier for developing important fuel/fiber crops.

Each of us has numerous ideas about genetic modification that could be developed into start-up crop companies and bring more competition into the marketplace dominated by a few mega-companies that can afford the regulatory process.

We are specifically asking our US representatives to write a bill that streamlines the regulatory process for approving GMO fuel and fiber crops, so that either the Environmental Protection Agency or the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issues the approval, rather than the current requirement of both approving. We also are requesting that you find other cost-saving measures that will decrease the overall price of such GMO crops. Since we are limiting our request to apply to fuel and fiber crops only, avoiding the regulatory framework of the Food and Drug Administration should make it less challenging to write and pass such a bill.

Thank you for representing the interests of rural Midwesterners, which are inextricably tied to the interests of our entire human family.

The letter was signed by University of Minnesota College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources graduate students Matthew Ott, Leanna Leverich, Zenith Tandukar, Nikki Mihelich, Marie Sorensen, Jared Spakman and Jason Thomas.