Usually, Americans would rather that the federal government leave them alone and stay out of their business. Red tape and regulations always seem to stand in the way, but we were reminded this week that when food safety is concerned, government oversight is welcome.

We welcome food safety inspectors in restaurants because they ensure the places are clean, pest-free and that the food is prepared and served in a safe manner.

We also welcome inspectors at the sources of our food. An example is the federal USDA inspectors who watch over meat processing facilities.

Consumers appreciate the assurance that their food is processed in a clean environment, and that it is stored and properly preserved so that when we eat, we can enjoy the flavor and richness rather than worrying about becoming sick.

Agribusinesses are well aware of consumers’ desire for oversight. We were reminded of that fact this week when an association of businesses that work with genetically modified crops banded together to warn Uncle Sam not to fudge on his inspections. It’s been suggested by the Trump Administration that the USDA dial back its safe food regulations, but the National Grain and Feed Association NGFA and several other grain- and oilseed-based agribusiness associations said in a joint statement Tuesday that allowing some leeway in regulation and government oversight of their genetically modified products could be bad for their businesses.

More specifically, the NGFA and the other agribusinesses said reduced oversight could contribute to trade disruptions.

“Our industry and our farmer-customers emphatically need to avoid the costly trade disruptions that have been associated periodically with transgenic biotechnology,” wrote the NGFA, Corn Refiners Association, National Oilseed Processors Association, North American Export Grain Association and North American Millers Association. “If the U.S. government’s regulatory oversight approach to genome editing and other plant breeding innovation is out of step with the domestic food industry or America’s significant export markets, it will have perilous repercussions for the grain and oilseed value chain, including U.S. farmers.”

American farmers and the agribusinesses that cater to them support the use of biotechnology and plant-breeding innovation, including genome editing, because it leads to abundant, affordable and environmentally sustainable food, feed and energy for U.S. and global consumers. Everyone desires safe, affordable food, but innovations can occur so rapidly that it takes time and reassurance of federal oversight programs to instill confidence among some consumers and trade partners.

Researchers and scientists are learning how to build better plant varieties to feed a hungry world, but if domestic and global consumers aren’t confident in the safety of what they’re consuming, all of the valuable technological advancements are useless. That’s why oversight is so important.

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