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Agri-Pulse reports:

USDA's Biotechnology Regulatory Services (BRS) is using a new process to speed up product reviews for biotech traits and recently presented a timeline for expected decisions to several farm and industry groups.

But for some, the improvements can't come fast enough, as U.S. farmers look for new biotech options that are sometimes available in countries like Brazil and Canada years before they are approved by USDA and EPA.

During a meeting late last Month, USDA's Deputy Administrator for Biotechnology Regulatory Services Mike Firko won kudos from farm organizations after announcing that his team would be able to clear its backlog of biotech crop petitions -- those submitted before USDA announced process improvements in November 2011 -- by the end of 2014.

For example, Dow submitted a petition to USDA in December 2009 to deregulate a 2,4-D- and glufosinate-tolerant soybean, and the agency expects to make a decision in July.

Still, critics point out that the decision comes almost two years after the product won approval in Canada.

BRS notes that it has reduced its backlog from 22 petitions in March 2012 to seven. Currently the agency is working on a total of 14 petitions and one petition extension.

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