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Roles of USDA Agencies in Biotechnology

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

AMS is responsible for administering plant variety and seed laws in the U.S., which also cover biotechnology-derived seeds, and for government activities regarding certification and labeling of agricultural seed for varietal purity for international trade. AMS also offers laboratory testing services for genetically engineered food and fiber products and voluntary process verification services to assure segregation of conventional and/or biotech crops along the food chain.

Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

ARS is USDA's in house science agency. ARS works to improve the quality, safety, and competitiveness of U.S. agriculture. The agency's biotechnology research includes introducing new traits and improving existing traits in livestock, crops, and microorganisms; safeguarding the environment; and assessing and enhancing the safety of biotechnology products. ARS also develops and provides access to agricultural resources and genomic information.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

APHIS ensures the safe development of agricultural biotechnology by regulating field-testing, interstate movement, and importation of genetically engineered organisms. APHIS determines whether a genetically engineered organism is as safe for the environment as its traditionally bred counterpart and can be freely used in agriculture.

Economic Research Service (ERS)

ERS conducts research on the economic aspects of the use of genetically engineered organisms, including the rate of and reasons for adoption of biotechnology by farmers. ERS also addresses economic issues related to the marketing, labeling, and trading of biotechnology-derived products.

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

FSIS is the public health agency in the U.S. Department of Agriculture responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged including animals involved in biotechnology.

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

FAS supports the overseas acceptance of biotechnology and crops that have been reviewed by the U.S. government agencies to support U.S. farm exports and promote global food security. These efforts are conducted through government-to-government discussions, exchange in multilateral organizations, and overseas education and marketing programs.

Forest Service (FS)

FS conducts all research and development on forest resource issues within USDA. Biotechnology is used in a wide variety of R&D for healthier trees, forest products, and pest resistance for both diseases and insects that affect trees, wildlife, and fish.

Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA)

GIPSA provides inspection, weighing, and related services on grains, pulses, oilseeds, and processed and graded commodities. GIPSA operates a biotechnology reference laboratory that assists commercial laboratories, governments, and academic institutions in evaluating the capability and reliability of their biotech testing programs. GIPSA also oversees a voluntary process verification program which allows suppliers to assure customers about the quality of their products or services through independent audits of their manufacturing practices or services.

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

NASS is the fact finder for agriculture, provides information on the adoption of biotechnology crops (specifically corn, cotton, and soybeans). NASS has been tracking the adoption of biotech crops since 2000.

National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

NIFA provides funding and program leadership for extramural research, higher education, and extension activities in food and agricultural biotechnology. In partnership with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and Forest Service, NIFA administers the Biotechnology Risk Assessment Research Grants Program (BRAG) which supports the development of science-based information regarding the safety of introducing into the environment genetically-modified plants, animals, and microorganisms.