Environmental Defense Applauds EPA Biotech Rules

On January 18th, Environmental Defense praised the Environmental Protection Agency

(EPA) for finalizing its long-awaited rules applying to genetically engineered

crops. The rules spell out how the agency regulates pesticidal substances,

such as “Bt” toxins, that certain plants are genetically engineered to produce.

“EPA’s rules are a cornerstone of federal oversight of genetically engineered

crops,” said Environmental Defense senior scientist Dr. Rebecca Goldburg.

“These rules are essential to protecting both the environment and food safety.”

EPA proposed the rules in 1994, but was unable to finalize them until late

yesterday, when the rules appeared on EPA’s website.

“EPA has implemented the rules since they were first proposed,” said

Goldburg. “For example, the agency has registered as pesticides numerous Bt

toxins for use in genetically engineered cotton, potatoes, and corn, including

‘Starlink’ corn, which has contaminated taco shells and other foods. However,

EPA’s proposed rules did not clearly have the full force of the law, and were

susceptible to industry disregard. Publication of the final rules make EPA’s

regulatory program fully enforceable.”

“The rules are consistent with the recommendations of an April, 2000,

National Academy of Sciences report,” said Goldburg, who was a member of

the panel that wrote the report. The report, Genetically Modified

Pest-Protected Plants: Science and Regulation, urged that EPA’s rules be

finalized, and that the scope of the rules be expanded slightly, to apply to

some types of genetically engineered plants not covered by the proposed

rules.

Along with finalizing the rules, EPA yesterday issued a supplemental notice

requesting public comment on whether the agency should expand the scope of

the rules to be consistent with the recommendations of the National Academy

report.

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