New Harvest community member Tobi Ogunnaike attended day 1 of the AC21 in D.C. earlier this month.
The purpose of the AC21 was to provide information and advice to the Secretary of Agriculture on the broad array of issues related to the expanding dimensions and importance of agricultural biotechnology, including the long-term impacts of biotechnology on the U.S. food and agriculture system. New Harvest submitted a public comment for this meeting, which you can find here.
Read Tobi's summary of the first day of the meeting below:
No direct mention of cellular agriculture or its products were made at the AC21. But some tangential points were made:
- The Secretary of Agriculture expressed his hope for a ‘Food Counsel’ in the US that will replace the current “15 or so federal groups and agencies that are related to food”. He claimed that many other countries have adopted this approach.
- The Secretary of Agriculture told AC21 that “establishing the process through which different stakeholders (consumers, farmers, industry etc.) can discuss contentious issues openly and productively will be your most important work”
- There seemed to be consensus that the recently signed ‘GMO disclosure bill’ hints at a future wherein a lot of complex debates around food will be more commonplace. “This is just the beginning”, the Secretary of Agriculture repeatedly said.
- Acknowledgement by AC21 and Sec. of Ag. that regulators have to do better to stay at pace with science. Suggestion that they need to be proactive rather than reactive.
The bulk of the day was essentially AC21 members working to revise the content, clarity and style of their draft report (The importance of coexistence on the future of agriculture). Most of this chat centered around:
- Crop cultivation
- Seed varieties
- Geneticaly engineered crops and Organic farming
- Pesticides (volatility, toxicity)
- Fertilizer run-off
- The official report (which will have recommendations for achieveing co-existence), minutes and transcript will be out in about a month.
- Isha’s comment was made available for AC21 members to read but not discuss. The comment will be published on their website.
Written by Tobi Ogunnaike