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International News on Genetic Engineering in Agriculture
Biweekly News 00/04/16News Detail
US Science Panel's Biofoods Recommendations Detailed
WASHINGTON, April 5 (Reuters) - The National Academy of Sciences made several dozen recommendations on Wednesday to improve the U.S. government's regulation of genetically altered plants. A 260-page report was prepared by a panel that included scientists from eight universities plus experts from the Environmental Defense Fund, California's state pesticide agency, a Washington law firm, and a consulting firm. The study did not address philosophical and social issues related to biofoods, or the impact of food labeling and international trade. The complete report is available on the Internet at www.national-academies.org.
[www.nap.edu/catalog/9795.html - ed.]
The following are some of the key recommendations made by the academy for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Agriculture Department, and the Food and Drug Administration:
* Establish a federal database for natural plant compounds of potential concern.
* Develop improved methods to identify potential allergens in gene-altered plants, and release guidance on the assessment of potential food allergies.
* Monitor environmental impacts on a long-term basis to spot any problems that could not be predicted from tests conducted during the regulatory approval process.
* Increase quantity, quality and public accessibility of information on the regulation of altered plants.
* Increase research aimed as assessing the potential risks of transgenic plants.
* Collect more data on the baseline concentrations of plant compounds that could affect human health and how concentrations may vary due to genetics and environment.
* Examine whether long-term feeding of gene-altered plants to animals could help assess potential human health impacts.
* Require original data to support USDA decision-making on altered crops when published data is insufficient.
* Determine the impacts of altered plants on other plants and wildlife.
* Develop a list of plants with wild or weedy relatives and assess gene flow from altered plants into others.
* Develop gene-splicing techniques that decrease the potential for the inadvertent spread of new plants into the wild.
* Clarify which regulatory issues are under the authority of the USDA, EPA and FDA, and establish process for timely exchange of information among the agencies.
* View regulations as flexible and open to revision based on new information and science as it evolves.
Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.