WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Trade teams from Japan and Taiwan will travel throughout the U.S. Midwest to learn about new traits from seed technology providers and stay in touch with their U.S. counterparts.

The visits are part of the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC) ongoing effort to keep government regulators and reviewers in key grains importing countries informed.

“The Council works to continuously educate stakeholders on global regulatory trends and the latest in U.S. corn production technology,” said Allison Nepveux, USGC manager of trade policy. “Exchanging scientific opinions supports the Council’s long-term goals of sharing resources and maintaining access to these important markets.”

A team of Taiwanese biotech reviewers — organized by the Council, CropLife Taiwan and the Taiwan Feed Industry Association — met with U.S. government agencies and industry organizations last week in Washington, D.C., before departing for additional meetings in Missouri, North Carolina and Iowa.

The team represented key stakeholders with interests in plant biotechnology, risk assessment and risk communication. Team members discussed the coordinated framework between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The reviewers on the team also asked questions related to labeling requirements, safety assessments, stacked traits, public comment periods and other topics. In turn, the team learned from USDA officials about their rationale and perspectives in assessing new breeding techniques and how to implement globally-harmonized regulatory approaches.

Taiwan’s laws governing food and feed safety stipulate re-shuffling members of regulatory panels every two years, with 15 new researchers joining either the Taiwan GM Food Review Panel or the GM Feed Review Panel in 2018. As a result, teams like the one this week are important to conduct on a regular basis as new reviewers rotate into these important regulatory bodies.

“Providing information to these biotech experts helps reduce technical barriers that could cause unnecessary delays in biotech trait reviews,” Nepveux said. “Doing so prevents the disruption of corn trade between the United States and these two loyal markets.”

A team of Japanese biotech reviewers is also in the United States this month for a similar set of meetings in Iowa and Missouri, organized by the Council in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.

“These meetings will provide the Japanese reviewers with information on the biotech corn events in the pipeline for entry into the Japanese regulatory system in the near future,” Nepveux said. “These trade teams also allow reviewers to understand how their regulatory approvals and regulations need to be able to work with the real world of U.S. corn production, distribution and exports.”

The third biotech-focused trade team in the United States in August includes government regulators from Japan involved in the food, feed and environmental approvals of corn events. That group will visit both North Carolina and Washington, D.C.

Japan’s government also includes an agency rotation program, meaning many individuals are not in any one role longer than two or three years. As a result, the Council must diligently provide continuing education that exposes new regulators to U.S. seed technology processes.

Since the Japanese regulatory system represents a model for other countries in the region, it is critical to ensure these subject matter experts are as up-to-date as possible.