Three federal agencies coordinated on testing of GM food – genetically modified food – Brief Article
The Bush administration announced August 2 a coordinated effort among three federal agencies to update their field-testing requirements and establish early food safety assessments for experimental bioengineered food crops. These activities are “part of the government’s continuing protection of public health and the environment and efforts to enhance public confidence in the regulatory oversight of biotechnology-derived food crops and foods/feeds derived from such crops,” the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said in a Federal Register notice.
Under the proposal, the three agencies responsible for regulating bioengineered crops–the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Agriculture Department–will all be expected to propose new guidance “aimed at preventing low levels of biotechnology-derived genes and gene products from being found in commercial seed, commodities, and processed food and feed until appropriate safety standards can be met,” the notice continued.
The new coordinated approach is designed to intervene early in the testing process to prevent or minimize gene flow from experimental crops to conventional crops or biotech crops that have been approved for human consumption. It is based on three principles, according to the notice:
The level of confinement under which a field test of a biotechnology-derived plant is conducted should be consistent with the level of environmental, human, and animal health risk associated with the introduced protein and trait.
If a trait or protein presents an unacceptable risk, or the risks cannot be determined adequately, field test confinement requirements would be rigorous to restrict cross-breeding and commingling of seed, and the occurrence at any level of biotechnology-derived genes and gene products from these field tests would be prohibited in commercial seed, commodities, and processed food and feed.
Even if a trait or protein does not present an unacceptable risk to the environment or public health, field test requirements should still minimize the occurrence of crossbreeding and commingling of seed from these field tests. Nevertheless, if information indicating the newly introduced traits and proteins meet the applicable regulatory standards, then intermittent, low levels of biotechnology-derived genes and gene products from such field tests could be found acceptable.
The three agencies would each publish a new set of guidance documents, which do not carry the force of law, outlining how to prevent or minimize gene flow from experimental crops, thus ensuring that no unapproved proteins enter the food chain.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Sparks Companies, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group