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NC State Extension

Center of Excellence for Regulatory Science in Agriculture

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The pace of advancement in science of agriculture has increased exponentially in recent decades. Several concurrent innovation pathways have the potential for significant improvements in both the efficiency and sustainability of production agriculture. For example, recent revolutionary breakthroughs in the field of genome-editing, e.g., CRISPR-CAS9, have opened new doors to innovation in plant biotechnology. The availability of low cost GPS technology and high resolution satellite imagery along with advancements in farming equipment has led to the development of digital farming tools which producers can use to guide more efficient applications of nutrients and crop protection products. These same digital farming tools also have the potential for use in the more effective protection of natural resources such as soil quality, sensitive waterways, and establishment of pollinator and wildlife habitat areas.

One of the critical pieces to any new innovation in agricultural technology is gaining regulatory acceptance. Regulatory testing and approval for new products such as a new pesticide or genetically modified plant may cost hundreds of million of dollars and take decades to bring from discovery to market. While innovation in more sustainable agricultural technologies combined with an effective science-based regulatory system will lead to improvements in agricultural production overall, these advancements will not truly be successful without effective engagement of stakeholders throughout the entire process in order to facilitate acceptance as well as transparency of the regulatory decision-making processes.

As a result there is a need for a more open forum that brings together stakeholders from multiple sectors including federal and state regulatory bodies, scientists, producers, commodity grounds, and non-governmental organizations to more effectively engage on issues of regulatory science in agriculture. Through the Center of Excellence in Regulatory Sciences in Agriculture (CERSA), we plan to use social science and evaluation to better understand the barriers and decision-making process preventing the adoption and acceptance of biotechnology. These collaborative efforts will identify and/or develop the knowledge and technology needed to improve agricultural productivity, profitability, acceptability, and sustainability in order to meet the growing need for safe nutritious higher-yielding crops to feed and clothe a growing global population.

To learn more, please review the CERSA presentation given at the NC State Crop Protection School or contact us directly.